IBE aims to ‘Close the Divide’

| July 23, 2020 1:00 AM

Over half of Idaho students without computers heading into the school year

Idaho Business for Education, a nonprofit organization of nearly 250 businesses across Idaho, including North Idaho, is launching a new phase of its Close the Divide campaign to get computers and internet service to students who do not have these learning tools at home.

A survey by the State Board of Education of local school districts shows that nearly 200,000 students do not have a computer at home and at least 30,000 do not have internet access.

“If we do not Close the Divide these students who don’t have these learning tools will not have an equal opportunity to learn should the COVID-19 virus force students to learn part of the time or all of the time at home,” said IBE President Rod Gramer in a press release. “It is imperative that we get these resources to students for the 2020-21 school year.”

IBE is calling on all businesses to see if they have spare computers that can be provided to students who do not have devices at home. It also is seeking donations from individual Idahoans who have a spare computer at home.

If a business or individual has a spare computer to donate they can contact one of IBE’s 7 Close the Divide regional chairs by going to idahobe.org/close. Click on the name of a regional chair closest to you. For Boundary and Bonner counties, the regional chair is Brent Carr, brentcarr0959@gmail.com

At the same site you can also donate money to help fund the purchase of new computers and provide internet service.

Another way you can help is by going to the Idaho Community Foundation website www.idahocf.org/funds/internet donate to the Internet for Students Emergency Fund.

You can also help spread the word that these resources are needed through #CloseTheDivide.

“We don’t have any idea what the upcoming school year will look like” Gramer said. “We have a moral and legal obligation to ensure that all students have an equal opportunity to learn and succeed this school year.”

On Aug. 5,IBE is also hosting Close the Divide Day, an effort aimed at collecting spare laptops from the community to donate to the nearly 200,000 Idaho students without devices.

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Close the Divide Day will see drop-off locations open throughout the state from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday, August 5. Information: idahobe.org/close