DC Back to School Bash addresses digital divide for low-income students

Access to resources can be a challenge for many students in the District and the pandemic has presented a whole new set of disadvantages to low-income families. A D.C. group is working to change that.

The Ward 6 Mutual Aid Network is working with the nonprofit Serve Your City to provide students with backpacks filled with school supplies, protective gear and digital devices, including a laptop.

Pranav Nanda is a part of that effort and said the group organized the D.C. Back to School Bash to help the estimated 44% of students who don’t have access to the proper technology.

“A digital device needs to be seen as just every single student in education needs to have one,” Nanda said.

It’s been an ongoing effort that the group has made a priority due to the lack of internet access many students in the District face, and Nanda said demand has only increased as they reach more families.

“Unfortunately, there are going to be so many students left out who don’t have the resources they need to be successful,” he said.

The program is also offering tutoring and access to a tech hotline. Maurice Cook is also with the Ward 6 program and said, so far, they’ve given out 165 backpacks and hope to give out more.

“We’re going to push out the benchmark to 225 and we’re going to just keep going because this is going to take a long time to make up for the gaps that have been occurring for the last 30 years, since people have had personal computers at home,” Cook said. “This is a manifestation of what we can do together to make this the just world that we’re all fighting for.”

Those who wish to donate can do so by visiting DCbacktoschoolbash.com.

Melissa Howell

Melissa Howell joined WTOP Radio in March 2018 and is excited to cover stories that matter across D.C., as well as in Maryland and Virginia. 

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