With a gift of 500 computers from Lowes Cos. Inc. this week, the Davidson-based nonprofit E3D (Eliminate Davidson’s Digital Divide) is expanding to Cornelius and broadening its goal of putting computers into the hands of local school kids who lack them. The group has been rechristened with a broader name – E2D (Eliminate the Digital Divide) – and is now hoping to help hundreds of families with children in grades K-12 at the three elementary schools in the two towns as well as Bailey Middle and W.A. Hough High schools in Cornelius.
In a ceremony Wednesday at the Ada Jenkins Center in Davidson, E2D formally announced the Lowe’s gift, and distributed the first computer.
The organization long has had the goal of expanding, and with computers now in hand, it can take the next steps, according to Pat Millen of Davidson, whose family is leading the effort.
“We now have enough computers,” Millen said. “This Lowe’s gift is such a massive gift, it allowed us to jump ahead on where we are.”
Millen’s daughter Franny, a 13-year-old Bailey Middle School eighth grader and the campaign’s founder, handed off a laptop to the first recipient, Aryanna McCain of Davidson.
Franny conceived of the project after telling her family last year: “More and more often I’ve seen assignments and homework at our school that require a computer to complete. It doesn’t seem fair that so many kids I know have to go the library to try to do their homework, since they don’t have computers at their homes. We’ve got to figure out a way to help these families get computers.”
Now, she has the community behind her, in an effort to demolish the barrier between the area’s technology haves and have-nots.
There’s a long list of partners, including not only Ada Jenkins Center and Lowe’s, but Davidson College staff and students (who will provide computer training), local churches, and a long list of financial donors.
Joan Higginbotham, Lowe’s director of community relations, explained why the giant home-improvement retailer got involved.
“Lowe’s is focused on enhancing the educational experience for today’s students. When E2D recognized the importance of leveling the playing field here in
Charlotte by improving student access to computer technology, we were honored to help advance those efforts,” she said in a statement. “Lowe’s is excited to be part of a community solution that will transform the lives of students and their families by helping eliminate the digital divide.”
Wednesday’s event kicked off a weekend drive that will deliver computers beginning in Davidson. Nine Davidson College student volunteers will be out in the community helping 50 families of Davidson Elementary School students set up their new computers. They’ll do everything from setting up email accounts to creating bookmarks, so parents and their students will be ready for the first day of school, Pat Millen said.
Later, Davidson student volunteers will provide ongoing technical support and trianing the students and their families at the Ada Jenkins Center, through Friday evening drop-in help sessions.
Said Davidson president Carol Quillen: “We have a student body that is committed to servant leadership. Our students care about education and social justice and have been integral in E2D’s effort to help these children and families learn how to maximize their new digital resources.”
BOOK SALE THIS WEEKEND
Meanwhile, fundraisers for E2D are continuing. The organization still needs to buy software and provide services for the families who get its computers. Another grass-roots fundraiser – a book sale outside Main Street Books – is planned Saturday. Let’s let the organizers tell us about it:
Our names are Grace and Emmeline Myers. We go to school at Davidson Elementary and are in 3rd and 1st grades. Our Children’s Used Book Sale to benefit the E2D Project (formerly E3D). The sale will take place on Saturday, Aug. 24, from 9- 11am in front of Main Street Books, 126 S. Main St., Davidson. We will have books donated by friends from DES and our family. We think the E2D project is important because it is helping local kids in our community to get computers. The computers will help with their homework and help them succeed in school.
E2D website, http://www.e-2-d.org/
See all past coverage of E2D (and E3D) on DavidsonNews.net.
Feb. 27, 2013, “E3D’s goal: Eliminate Davidson’s digital divide.”