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Tens of thousands of dollars and potentially hundreds of thousands of devices are being put toward digital equity. | ThamKC/Shutterstock

Comcast and several other tech companies recently announced various investments into digital equity, including donations of devices to a program in Thailand and a partnership with Chicago. 

Windy City donation drive

The city of Chicago partnered with Compudopt, PCs for People and World Business Chicago to launch “Chi Device Donation Month,” a digital equity push, encouraging businesses to donate computers for Compudopt and PCs for People to refurbish and redistribute

A press release from the city stated that as many as 260,000 Chicago households don’t have a computer. Among those surveyed, 61% said affordability was a barrier to digital equity, with 29% saying that devices are too costly.

Mayor Brandon Johnson said the digital divide “has a severe impact on our youth and students,“ and he hopes Chi Device Donation Month “will help put these devices into the hands of students and their families and remove a long-standing barrier to achievement, employment and helping Chicagoans thrive well into the 21st century.”

Megan Steckly, CEO of Compudopt, added in the city’s press release that “digital inclusion lays the foundation for economic mobility and a more equitable future.” 

Efforts elsewhere

On the West Coast, Comcast donated $60,000 to Portland, Ore.-based Free Geek to support that nonprofit’s refurbishment efforts.

The telecommunications giant will also provide free high-speed Wi-Fi service to Free Geek’s upcoming Center for Technology Education & Digital Equity and will invest $240,000 in a digital navigation campaign to help eligible people enroll in the federal Affordable Connectivity Program.

“This grassroots support group will partner with local community-based organizations to plan and activate adoption campaigns, drive engagement among income-constrained communities and support households in finding the right connection that best fits their needs,” a Comcast press release noted. 

The investment is part of the company’s larger Project UP, a $1 billion commitment to advance digital equity.

“This investment in Free Greek and in digital navigation resources will help increase college and career readiness, especially among underserved youth; connect workers to opportunities; provide upskilling for adult learners and those already in the workforce; and close the skills – particularly digital skills – gap,” the press release stated. 

Internationally, Wisetek US donated IT equipment to a digital classroom program in Thailand, which aims to redistribute 130,000 devices to 437 Bangkok schools over the next four years.

Sean Sheehan, CEO of Wisetek, said in a press release that “this is a fantastic project that highlights the potential to utilize old computer devices and re-purpose them for educational reasons.” 

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