When it comes to computers and all things electronic, schools have jumped in big-time, with education tech spending estimated to hit $60 billion by 2018. That commitment promises to continue the transformation of classroom instruction-and, in turn, homework, too. Already, many assignments require a home computer; problem is, not everyone has one, and that’s given rise to what’s commonly known as “the digital divide.”
Enter TeamChildren. Based in Audubon, Pennsylvania, this IRS-approved nonprofit’s mission is “to ensure that every child has the technology tools and the opportunities to learn lots and learn early.” And they accomplish that feat by refurbishing and distributing countless computers to families throughout Pennsylvania, the country and the world.
Just one glance at the 2013 Census Bureau’s American Community Survey Report of Computer and Internet Use in the U.S. tells the story:
Percentages of households with computers led by:
- White alone, non-Hispanic: 85.4%
- Black alone, non-Hispanic: 75.8%
- Asian alone, non-Hispanic: 92.5%
- Hispanic (of any race): 79.7%
In those with incomes:
- Less than $25,000: 62.4%
- $25,000 to $49,999: 81.1%
- $50,000 to $99,999: 92.6%
Educational attainment of householder:
- Less than high school graduate: 47.2%
- High school graduate (includes equivalency): 66.9%
- Some college or associate’s degree: 83.9%
- Bachelor’s degree or higher: 93.5%
As noted, race is part of the equation in that “digital divide,” but the gap widens even more when education and income are factored in. And it’s the have-nots that is the heart of TeamChildren.Thanks to help from some thousands of donors, including IBM, QVC, and Acme, as well as a number of local school districts, the organization has already refurbished and given more than 14,000 low-cost computers new homes, thus changing the lives of more than 50,000 kids in the Philadelphia area and well beyond.
While most of the recipients are single moms raising kids on their own, about 33% are children with severe health or developmental challenges.
But that’s just part of the story. The organization also sponsors a summer youth program, hiring and instructing a number of teens/college students how “to refurbish computers, work as a team, set goals, provide customer service, marketing, public relations and more.” That also involves mastering TeamChildren’s early learning math and literacy software, and then teaching parents how best to use them with their children and boost achievement.
Many also work on Saturdays and during school holidays, and, thanks to their hard work and commitment, an additional 1,000 computers are distributed to local families, schools, and various other organizations every year.
Such largesse harkens all the way back to October 22, 1966 in Vietnam’s Phu Cong Province.
On that day, a hand grenade lobbed at a squad of American soldiers was grabbed by one Private 1st Class Milton Olive. By throwing himself on it, he saved all the men in his platoon, including Robert Toporek. Carrying Private Olive’s body out of the jungle, he promised to dedicate his life honoring his friend’s heroism and memory.
That promise took shape in 1975 when he founded TeamChildren, and, ever since, Toporek has been paying if forward, “making a difference worldwide, one child at a time.” To learn more and donate to this noble effort, just click here.