Grants aim to close the digital divide in Tampa Bay

Something Good

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) —Families without adequate access to computers and high-speed internet are most at risk of being left behind in the new environment of virtual classrooms, hybrid education programs, and e-learning. This digital inequity is a nationwide problem that employees at Tech Data wanted to do something about.

Richard Hume, CEO of Tech Data, says the company’s culture of giving back to local communities is a bottom-up effort. Employees determine organizations and causes they want to support, form fundraising teams, and the donations they receive are matched by the company. Typically before the start of a new school year Tech Data employees hold back pack drives. But, recognizing this school year was vastly different, employees felt they had the opportunity, and responsibility, to do something about the digital divide.

Employees in Tampa Bay identified several organizations they wanted to support. Grants were given to neighborhood organizations including Boys and Girls Clubs of the Suncoast and Boys and Girls Clubs Tampa Bay, to help put technology into the hands of students. Additional grants benefited Academy Prep Centers, Pinellas Education Foundation and Hillsborough Education Foundation. 

National donations were also made to nonprofits that focus on equitable access to the internet, and those providing refurbished technology like laptops, desktops and tables to low-income individuals and nonprofits, affording them the life-changing impact of computers and mobile internet. The e-cycling programs keep thousands of pounds of e-waste out of landfills.

In total, $500,000 in donations were made by Tech Data. However, Hume recognizes that Tech Data can only make a small dent in this problem. 

“I would encourage everyone to think about this issue and determine how they could assist in the effort of making sure that our youth are properly educated in this very challenging time,” says Hume.

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