Thousands of families with low income have received computers and hundreds have gotten discounted internet access through a partnership between the San Diego County Office of Education (SDCOE), EveryoneOn, Computers 2 SD Kids, and Cox Communications.
Each year, the four organizations work together to hold 40 to 50 events where families who quality for free or reduced-price lunch can get a desktop or notebook computer loaded with educational software for about $100. Some families are also able to sign up at these events for discounted internet access through Cox Communications.
"It makes a difference in the lives of these families," said Kristen Adams, program coordinator with Computers 2 SD Kids. "It's the best feeling in the world. It gives me goose bumps every time."
At a recent event at the National City School District, about 75 families got computers.
Families at the event said that having a computer in the house will help their students not only excel in school but also help them in the future by making them more confident with technology. Some said they didn't have computers at home and instead had to rely on those at the library for school work.
"This is awesome!" said Doria McBride, who picked up computers for her two children at the National City event. "This will help the kids learn since everything is all technology now."
Having their own computers will also teach children about responsibility, McBride said.
"Students living in homes without computers or the Internet are increasingly at a disadvantage as coursework and workplace skills are now dependent on technology," said Dr. Karen Connaghan, assistant superintendent of Integrated Technology Services for SDCOE.
SDCOE employees work with schools, districts, parents, and other organizations to help facilitate and promote the services.
"This is a great partnership that helps SDCOE in its ongoing work to provide equity for students and to eliminate the digital divide," said Dr. Paul Gothold, San Diego County superintendent of schools.
Guadalupe González, president of the San Diego County Board of Education, agreed.
"Computers aren't a luxury anymore; they're a critical educational resource that all students need access to," González said.
The events wouldn't happen without the help of numerous volunteers.
Community volunteer Anthony Svelio has been donating his time at the events for the last few months. It's a good way to give back to the community, he said.
"It's a noble cause, and you feel good being a part of it," Svelio said.
Computers 2 SD Kids has been distributing computers to low-income families since 2005. EveryoneOn is a national nonprofit working to eliminate the digital divide by making high-speed, low-cost Internet service, computers, and free digital literacy courses accessible to all unconnected Americans.