Avanade and InterConnection partner to deliver tech to families in need during the pandemic
- Posted on September 11, 2020
- Estimated reading time 3 minutes
Like moths to a flame, 21st-century kids gravitate toward technology. How could they not? It’s natural for children to be curious about these tools – phones, tablets, computers – that impact so much of our lives. But not all children are guaranteed to have the opportunity to engage with technology like this.
For this reason, we partnered with non-profit InterConnection, to launch the Avanade Tech Grant program in December 2019. We managed to distribute three batches of laptops before COVID-19 hit, and we decided to take the program up a notch during the pandemic. Through this program we’ve awarded laptops, access points and backpacks to 250 students, through 11 partner organizations who work with youth involved in STEM. Now they have access to vital social services and learning resources.
Because of the lockdown, schools had to quickly pivot to online learning, and children in underserved and low-income communities without access to technology were at risk of falling behind. Through our partnership, we donated technology to 150 families in March, April and May (plus an additional 100 ahead of the pandemic).
“We’re excited to be working with Avanade to connect even more underserved individuals to vital technology, especially during this time of sheltering in place,” said Mickey Pierce, head of Business Development at InterConnection.
Graham Windham, a New York-based non-profit that cares for youth in foster care, was one of the beneficiaries of the program. Their program director at Manhattanville Cornerstone, Bibiana Thomas said, “Because of Avanade and InterConnection’s laptop donation, our kids have been able to continue learning virtually! We are forever grateful.”
And the kids were just as thrilled.
“I like laptops because they help me learn!” Maria said. “I listen to many stories on the New York Public Library and play math games that help me with my counting.”
“The laptop helps me work on my math and reading skills through PBS Kids,” Kylie added.
Eager to understand how other students were benefitting from the new tech during the pandemic, Avanade and InterConnection sponsored the #GeekinOutChallenge, asking Avanade Tech Grant recipients to submit a picture or video demonstrating how they put their new tech to use. We received amazing responses from students; Asam Mahina from Museum of Flight Washington Aerospace Scholars, who built his own app, was the clear winner.
“With the laptop I received, I was able to complete my schoolwork during the lockdown,” he said. “I also began learning python and was able to make a program that when run, would open a browser, and login to an Instagram account. I have tried to learn some coding before, but this is really the first time that I was able to make something that I actually thought was cool."
Since the introduction to InterConnection, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona has now taken this a step further organizing their own fundraising to lessen the digital divide. Together with InterConnection, Cal Poly Pomona has distributed more tech to students in need — a 140 PCs to date, and additional fundraising for hotspots is under way.
“At Cal Poly Pomona, when the pandemic initially hit, we first distributed 40 computers that were donated by Avanade to our Student Success and Relief Program,” said Erik Rolland, Dean of the College of Business administration at Cal Poly Pomona. “This program aims to lessen to digital divide and provide support to ensure that students’ successfully progress towards their degree. Our efforts would not have been possible without the generosity of and close partnership with Avanade.”
Seeing how we have been able to make a tangible impact in the lives of these kids is so gratifying to me and to everyone at Avanade. Our mission is to enable young people and their communities to do more through the power of people and digital innovation. I can’t think of a higher purpose, and I’m truly grateful that our work with InterConnection has hit the mark.