Companies Unite to Address Education’s Digital Divide With $25 Million Investment

A nationwide coalition led by Procter & Gamble has announced $25 million in investments towards a goal to put one million connected devices in the hands of students without access to the basic tools needed to engage in digital learning, a need that’s been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

One Million Connected Devices Now is the latest effort from the Take on Race Coalition – a group P&G developed in partnership with CEO Action for Diversity & Inclusion. Partners Dell Technologies, Intel, Dow Jones, Fidelity, Microsoft Corp, PNC Bank, PolicyLink, Walmart, and Comcast have joined P&G in Phase One of the initiative that has raised $25 million towards devices, and the companies invite others to become involved in helping address the digital divide.

“The pandemic has exacerbated inequality for communities of color, particularly in education. Like many others, we know the time is now to step up and limit the long-term impacts of these short-term challenges,” said David Taylor, Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer, Procter & Gamble. “The spirit of collaboration demonstrated by the partners supporting One Million Connected Devices Now illustrates what is possible when we come together with focused actions towards our most pressing societal challenges. We have much more to do, but I’m encouraged by the response to-date and the potential for even greater impact.”

To scale, distribute, and drive enduring impact in communities across America, the Coalition has formed strategic partnerships with local organizations experienced in connecting students, families and communities. Community partners include Harlem Children’s Zone, StriveTogether, and INROADS. Harlem Children’s Zone – a New York-based nonprofit which reaches more than 22,500 children and families will scale and execute the One Million Connected Devices Now effort to better serve students nationwide. The Coalition’s partnership with StriveTogether – a national network of nearly 70 communities dedicated to dismantling the cycle of inequitable outcomes for youth – will expand the reach of One Million Connected Devices Now across its network in Phase Two. INROADS, an organization focused on career development for minority youth, will assist in identifying students in need of devices as well as provide recipients across the country with opportunities for training and career development through its College Links and Leadership Development Academy programs.

One Million Connected Devices Now will help Harlem Children’s Zone advance our mission to uplift our community and end intergenerational poverty in Central Harlem and around the nation,” said Kwame Owusu-Kesse, CEO, Harlem Children’s Zone. “We see that the support is needed and this timely movement will help further our national efforts and block by block approach to rooting out poverty.” Harlem Children’s Zone is leading city-by-city community coordination in seven Phase One markets: New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, Minneapolis, Newark and Oakland. The organization will activate its national network of community partners to meet a pre-identified need and drive scale.

Companies continue to partner with the Coalition to help eliminate inequities by providing access and advancement for people of color across education, employment, health care, wealth creation, social justice and rejecting bias.

Data reveals that today’s youngest students are most vulnerable to falling behind. OneMillion Connected Devices Now reflects this urgent need and its importance in the near-term delivery of academic instruction.

BRIDGING THE GAP: STUDENTS OF COLOR, EDUCATION AND THE DIGITAL DIVIDE

Students of color disproportionately lack access to an appropriate computing device and reliable wi-fi connectivity for digital learning.

  • Over 73 million Americans (23 percent of population) live in neighborhoods where in-home broadband service subscription rates fall below 40 percent.1
  • The majority (13.6 million) of digitally-disconnected households across the U.S. live in urban areas;2
  • Those least likely to have broadband in America are communities of color and low-income communities.2

The need for urgent intervention is clear – and corporations are helping.

“While people of color continue to strive for equitable access and advancement, COVID-19 has complicated an urgent and growing digital divide – particularly among students of color,” said Barron Witherspoon, Senior Vice President, Global Industry Affairs & Corporate Race Initiatives, Procter & Gamble. “One Million Connected Devices Now is an execution of P&G’s commitment being a force for good and a force for growth, and is powered by scaled collaboration that will help close the digital divide across the country.”

“We need to move faster to address the digital inequity we see around us today, especially when it comes to education and remote learning,” said JJ Davis, Chief Corporate Affairs Officer, Dell Technologies. “Our ambition is to put communities at the center of digital inclusion – to listen and learn so we can adapt our approach to devices, connectivity and the skills and resources needed at the local level. The Take on Race Coalition supports this ambition by enabling broader impact than any one company or organization can have on its own.”

“Our mission at Intel is to create world-changing technology that enriches the lives of every person on earth. That’s why we have invested more than $1 billion globally in education over the past 15 years, including training for more than 15 million teachers,” said Gregory Bryant, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the Client Computing Group, Intel. “COVID-19 has exposed the ongoing digital divide and reinforced the importance of access to technology, especially for underserved communities.

“It is critical that we unite as an industry and nation to ensure that students continue to learn in this virtual environment.”

The Take on Race Coalition is forming partnerships at each critical phase of the supply chain and invites interested companies to join the movement.

Visit www.TakeOnRace.org to support, and:

  • Make a cash donation to the Take on Race – Million Connected Devices Fund.
  • Donate physical devices, computers and/or hotspots, for distribution.
  • Donate wi-fi or broadband access for use by the one million students who will benefit from this initiative.
  • Connect the Take on Race team to principal players at companies across the connected device industry.
  • Amplify the One Million Connected Devices Now movement via social media, #OneMillionConnectedDevicesNow.
  • Learn more about One Million Connected Devices Now and the Coalition’s goal to help achieve racial equity in America.

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