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Digital Divide Sees Improvement

Digital Divide Sees Improvement

Thunderbirds Charities Grant Empowers Youth through Non-Profit College Bound AZ Program

MESA, Ariz (July 3, 2024)

A lack of computer technology, also called a digital divide, exists in families that live at or below the poverty line. An Equity through Education grant provided by the Thunderbirds Charities to non-profit College Bound AZ aims to change that story.

The mission of the Arizona nonprofit College Bound AZ is to share the journey to college with aspiring underrepresented students through scholarships, guidance, and support resources for their advancement to a better life through education. Through its partnership with the East Valley Institute of Technology (EVIT) College Bound AZ is able to serve 11 school districts, charter schools, and homeschooled students. College Bound AZ’s high school program RISE Scholars (Reaching Impact through Student Excellence) has served over 2,000 students since its 2018 debut at EVIT.  

The digital divide exists in every state. A lack of finances impacts connectivity when families can’t afford a computer for their student going to college. Universities have begun eliminating their computer lending programs, leaving impoverished students to find other means for laptops to complete coursework.

“Laptops are more essential than ever,” says Gerald Paulus who mentors College Bound AZ alumni Elliott Aw studying mechanical engineering at Arizona State University. “We’re using graphing programs to complete homework assignments for calculus. A laptop is essential and must have a robust capability to help students succeed.” A laptop scholarship benefitted College Bound AZ alumna and Arizona State University student Yudidt Nonthe Sanchez, a 2024 Truman Scholar

With the help of the Thunderbirds Charities’ Equity through Education grant, students in College Bound AZ’s high school program can apply for a laptop scholarship and go to college better prepared. “The number of students with financial need increases every year,” says Lisa Rivera, College Bound AZ. “A laptop is very important, in fact, it’s a 'Tool for Success'. Our refurbished laptops meet technical specifications for college work. We want to provide a laptop to every student in need and with the help of Thunderbirds Charities, we are one step closer for the 100 or so students that need help.” “Thunderbirds Charities is proud to support the educational programming provided by College Bound AZ,” said George Thimsen, President of Thunderbirds Charities. “Having the necessary supplies to be successful in school is so important. We look forward to seeing the students in this program succeed in college and beyond."

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