CHARLOTTE – Bank of America is helping to close the digital divide by donating 10,000 Chromebooks for students to use in their homes.
Distribution of those devices to the students and their families began July 29, in partnership with Novant Health, Eliminate the Digital Divide (E2D), the City of Charlotte, Mecklenburg County and CMS.
The Chromebooks will support students with their education and help their families by providing connectivity to educational tools, job opportunities, online training and other resources. More than 90% of the households receiving devices are racially and ethnically diverse.
Bank of America is also pledging 10,000 volunteer hours to support students this school year through tutoring, mentoring, and in other ways.
“This effort will be transformative for students and their families as they navigate a world that is increasingly reliant on technology,” president of Bank of America Charlotte Kieth Cockrell. “Insufficient access to digital resources is a problem our residents have faced for years, and it has only been exacerbated by the pandemic. With the leadership of CMS Superintendent Ernest Winston, Pat Millen from E2D and numerous members of the public and private community, our city is coming together to solve it. And I look forward to other companies in our region coming forward to help Charlotte become the first city in the nation to eliminate the digital divide.”
These new devices are provided to the students and their families on a permanent basis, so that the entire household can benefit both during the school year and between academic calendar years. Select students from 69 schools, including 5 Title I high schools and their feeder elementary and middle schools, will be prioritized to receive the Chromebooks.
“Access to technology is a crucial step in our commitment to equity and is necessary for success in the 21st century,” CMS Superintendent Earnest Winston said. “These Chromebooks will allow our students to readily engage in their education and open new opportunities for them and their loved ones.”
Bank of America is partnering with Novant Health to provide coronavirus vaccinations at an upcoming distribution event. The health system will also help schedule appointments for back-to-school immunizations.
“By offering on-site COVID-19 vaccinations and scheduling appointments for back-to-school immunizations, we can ensure students' health needs are taken care of so they can have a safe and healthy school year,” said Dr. Jerome Williams, senior vice president of consumer engagement, Novant Health.
Bank of America is also working in partnership with E2D, a non-profit agency committed to ensuring that all students have affordable access to essential at-home technology and digital literacy training to support academic success and prepare students for college, careers and beyond. E2D will assist in the distribution of the Chromebooks, which will be delivered before the 2021-22 school year begins.
“Since 2013, E2D has been working diligently to chip away at Charlotte’s digital divide and we have been delighted to see corporate Charlotte step up to join us in our work,” said Pat Millen, E2D Founder and president. “Bank of America’s generous computer donation is single-handedly eliminating a massive chunk of this remaining need. We are hopeful that Bank of America’s laptop donation may inspire other large corporate technology grants to help Charlotte eliminate its digital divide permanently.”
Bank of America has committed $6 million in Charlotte over the past five years working with nonprofit and governmental agencies to support education, employment, leadership training, and mentoring for local students, including programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters, Read Charlotte, the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department's Envision Academy, the Mayor’s Youth Employment Program, and Freedom School Partners.
Bank of America also has created its own Student Leaders program, which annually connects more than 300 community-minded high school juniors and seniors from nearly 100 communities to employment, skills and development service.