Litchfield Elementary School District students will benefit from a Desert Financial Credit Union drive to raise up to $40,000 to purchase reliable laptops for students around the state.
Desert Financial, which was founded by teachers 81 years ago, will match up to $20,000 in community donations made through Friday, Sept. 25 to help children bridge “the technology divide,” the disparity between students whose technology needs are met, and those whose aren’t, according to a release.
As a tribute to its founders’ legacy, the credit union has always supported teachers and education, and the funds raised this month will benefit Laptops 4 Learning, a Phoenix-based nonprofit organization that provides quality refurbished laptops to students in need. It is encouraging its members, the community and team to make donations of any size at desertfinancial.com/LaptopDrive.
“Many people have heard of ‘food insecurity’ where kids don’t have enough to eat,” Desert Financial President/CEO Jeff Meshey said in a prepared statement. “But since schools have gone virtual, having a laptop is now among basic needs for kids. We’re happy to encourage our own members, community and team to do their part to help ensure all children in Arizona have the technology they need to thrive. It’s one way we can help break the cycle of poverty.”
LESD serves the communities of Avondale, Buckeye, Goodyear and Litchfield Park.
With more than 12,000 kindergarten through eighth-grade students in 16 schools (including six Title I schools) roughly 30% of LESD’s total student population is eligible for free and reduced meals. Further, 24% of families reported having no reliable devices at home to accommodate remote learning.
“The technology divide was already wide prior to this looming COVID-19 pandemic era, however, it has now become glaringly wider due to the urgent move to online classes for most students,” Laptops 4 Learning Executive Director Brenda Powell said in a prepared statement. “Last year, L4L had approximately 350 students registered with our program who were in need of laptops. We were able to provide laptops to 87, approximately 25%, of those students. This year, with four months remaining in 2020, we already have 477 students who have expressed a need for laptops, most of whom are socio-economically disadvantaged students. Receiving this financial support would result in up to 63% of the 477 students (300 students) who are currently registered with our program having their own personal laptop!”
Ms. Powell said children in the foster care system such as those at North Star Independent Living Services in Phoenix, are often forgotten. The independent living facility for youth and young adults in foster care serves more than 100 youth between the ages of 16-21 at three locations in Phoenix. Their population has been significantly impacted by the shift to remote learning.
“When the shutdown happened this spring, we found ourselves scrambling to find enough resources to ensure our students were successful in finishing their semester. Unfortunately, we fell short with finding enough computers/laptops to support all our students,” said Allison Goodwin, MSW, North Star’s educational specialist and on-going resident services coordinator. “Our students go to school all throughout Maricopa County (about 22 different schools) — some of which have resources to help the students — but many of them are unable to provide laptops or any technology when schools shut down.”
To learn more about Laptops 4 Learners, visit laptops4learning.com.
Desert Financial has 53 locations across the state. Southwest Valley branches include 13200 W. McDowell Road in Goodyear and 1060 S. Watson Road inside the Buckeye Watson Walmart. For more information, visit desertfinancial.com.