Rod Gramer

Rod Gramer

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The coronavirus crisis is revealing many gaps in our society, ones we’ve always known existed like affordable child care, adequate health care, and even our readiness to face a pandemic. One of those gaps is the digital divide where many students don’t have computers or internet service at home, while others do.

When Idaho’s school buildings closed last month, thousands of students found themselves at home without computers or the internet. This is making it very difficult for them to continue learning remotely for the rest of this school year.

Idaho Business for Education, a group of 242 businesses across the state, has launched the Community Activation Project. Our goal is to help get computers in the hands of these students and connectivity to their homes, so they have the same opportunity to learn as their peers.

At a time like this many of us are wondering how we can help others get through this crisis safely and get to the other side stronger. Helping our students continue their education is one of the ways anyone can help, even from the safety of their homes.

Here’s how you can help:

If you have an unused computer stored in your closet or, if you are a business, with several computers collecting dust in a storage area, please donate them to IBE so that we can get them sanitized, wiped of sensitive data and into the homes of these students.

If you or your company can volunteer to help us prepare these computers for distribution to students, please get involved in one of our community efforts across the state.

If you have money, of any amount, to donate to a special Internet for Students Emergency Fund we have created in the Idaho Community Foundation, please send in a donation. Just get it to the Idaho Community Foundation and earmark the contribution to the Internet for Students Emergency Fund.

This money will be used to help extend connectivity to as many students as we can.

IBE has created seven Community Activation Teams across the state, from Sandpoint in the Panhandle to Idaho Falls in the East. We are looking for community partners who can join us in narrowing, if not closing, this digital divide that we face.

Go to our website, idahobe.org/cap, and you can find a list of the chairs who are leading our CAP Teams in your community. Let them know that you want to help.

I recently saw a quote from St. Francis that reminded me of the Community Activation Project: “Start by doing what is necessary, then do what is possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.”

Getting computers and internet service to thousands of Idaho students may seem impossible, but with your help we can make the impossible, possible. Thank you for your assistance. Please stay safe and healthy.

Rod Gramer is president of Idaho Business for Education.

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