(NEW YORK – August 17. 2020) – This summer, students participating in the McSilver Institute’s Step-Up youth development and mental health support program received personal computers to support their education, distance learning and other critical needs. Amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, technology is a lifeline for young people to access educational and other important resources. In July and August, devices were distributed at Central Park East High School in Manhattan and Antonia Pantoja Preparatory Academy in the Bronx, both to current Step-Up participants as well as recent alums of the program.
The pandemic has increased the impact of the digital divide on teens who are at risk for not finishing high school. About one-third of lower-income parents said it was at least somewhat likely their children would not be able to complete schoolwork because they do not have access to a computer at home, according to a Pew Research poll in April.
Step-Up Co-Directors Kassia Ringell and H. Christian Villatoro led the effort to connect youth with needed tech resources. “The purchasing of laptops is not normally a part of being in Step-Up. However, the current conditions in NYC public schools, due to the pandemic, prompted us to spend our funds accordingly with the intent to meet the immediate needs of our youth, especially those who graduated and have plans for college and career in the fall,” said Ringell. “Capable digital tools are critical for many young New Yorkers to access distance learning, job opportunities, social services, and even resources for mental health and well-being, including programs like Step-Up. One student texted her enthusiasm: ‘I currently don’t own a computer, so this gift would mean a lot to me.'”
The gallery below shows some Step-Up students showing their new laptops at the distribution meet-ups:
Learn more about Step-Up.