Bridging the Digital Divide in Oakland

NBC Universal, Inc.

For students and families living in the East Bay, the pandemic has shown just how deep the high-tech digital divide can be. 

Now, a number of nonprofits in Oakland are working to make things a little less unequal by raising money, and bringing technology to those who need it most.

Eighty Apple laptops are being given to seniors at Oakland High School thanks to, a local nonprofit started by a former Oakland High student.

"You get faster speed, you get to apply for college and for scholarships," said founder Hue Mach.

It's especially needed during the pandemic, with many Oakland students trying to work without the hardware or WiFi connections they need.

"When we went into shelter-in-place, we estimated there were 25,000 Oakland families who were disconnected or under connected,” said Osler

So the Oakland Public Education fund went into action, raising millions of dollars from, among others, Square and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, to give students here a better chance to succeed.

"That has allowed us to purchase over 30,000 laptops, 10,000 hotspots that we are getting out to public schools throughout the city of Oakland,” said Osler.

The Public Education Fund says its next focus will be on student health and well being with a goal of providing four million meals to Oakland families.

"It means I'm capable of doing other things, like my school work, and getting things done, and having access to things I didn't have access to,” high school senior Samantha Portillo.

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