Oakland Leaders Launch Campaign to Close Digital Divide

#OaklandUndivided aims to raise $12.5M to provide 25,000 laptops and internet access to students in need

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Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf on Thursday announced a partnership with education, technology and fundraising entities on a campaign to close the digital divide in city schools.

The partnership has set a goal of raising $12.5 million to provide 25,000 laptops and internet hot spots to Oakland families in need, Schaaf's office said.

The Oakland Ed Fund, the Oakland Unified School District and Tech Exchange are included in the campaign, which has been dubbed #OaklandUndivided.

Of the 50,000 students enrolled in Oakland schools, about half lack connectivity at home, Schaaf said. Without a computer and internet access, those students are unable to participate in distance learning programs during the coronavirus shelter-at-home.

The vast majority of those students and families are from low-income backgrounds, are students of color, are undocumented or have special needs, the mayor said.

The digital divide already was an issue in Oakland before the pandemic, officials said, and the hope is for #OaklandUndivided to endure long after the return to a normal school environment.

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