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Making digital inclusion a priority, Verizon gift tablets and connectivity to 5 Cleveland schools: Leon Bibb Reports

The $1.8 Million investment per school is part of Verizon’s Innovative Learning Initiative

CLEVELAND — Bridging the digital divide remains one of the biggest learning obstacles for low income and rural communities during this pandemic. Community groups have done a tremendous job closing the gap, and now a major communications company has stepped in to help right here in Cleveland.

It’s the middle of a school day, but the schoolhouse is quiet. Absent are the voices of the children at Cleveland’s Almira School. The pandemic has kept them and their teachers at home. Learning is now done remotely. That is the plan.

But some students struggle because they do not have enough reliable access in the age of computers. In a situation called the “digital divide,” too many students are separated from this new age.  But at Almira School on Cleveland’s W. 99th Street, the distance between the “haves” and the “have-nots” is closing.

“We were selected by Verizon, our school community, our scholars, our families. We were filled with joy,” said Jim Greene, Principal at Almira School.

Mr. Greene beams because Verizon, the communications company, is donating tablets with whatever computer access is required to each of the 255 students in Almira’s 5th thru 8th grades. At a time when many students face limited access to reliable internet connectivity, Verizon’s gift is welcomed.

“Two hundred and fifty-five devices. Brand new iPads with a data plan so they will be able to connect whether there is stable wi-fi or not,” Mr. Greene said.

Because of the digital age, schools of today are far different from those of generations ago. Enter new computers, enter brighter futures.

“It’s way better. You are capable of doing your classes. You learn more,” said student Miguel Ortiz. 

“It’s better than regular school because you get to do a lot more. They go on websites and do their work,” added Brandy Holly, also an Almira student.

Verizon’s gift goes beyond Miguel and Brandy’s school. Also receiving tablets will be students at other Cleveland Metropolitan Schools: Wade Park, Patrick Henry, Miles Park and Whitney Young.

48% of households in Cleveland do not have reliable access to the internet. Many of those households have students living in them. But the students we are talking about live in a big world and they try to connect to it with a device. It will not only help the Cleveland students have connections to their schoolteachers, but connections to the entire world.

By getting these scholars connected with updated technology that works well and on top of that, we’re going to prepare them for life-long success,” said Mr. Greene.

For students, a computer screen can be a window to the future.