Ninety Howard County families of middle school students will soon have home computers for the first time thanks to the efforts of the Bright Minds Foundation, an educational foundation for Howard County public schools established to help address equity issues. The Computers for Students Program, a collaborative initiative of the Bright Minds Foundation and the Lazarus Foundation, a local community-based non-profit computer refurbishing organization, provides free, refurbished, upgraded computers and new printers to selected students who currently do not have home computers.
Bright Minds Foundation Chairman Doug Hostetler says the program addresses a fundamental equity issue. “This is exactly why the education foundation was established, to make sure that the playing field is level. Many of us take our home computers for granted, but for others in our community they are still a luxury. We know that students today are academically disadvantaged if they don’t have access to a computer.”
Five Howard County middle schools -- Dunloggin, Murray Hill, Mayfield Woods, Oakland Mills and Patuxent Valley -- were selected to participate in this round of the program. Harper’s Choice and Wilde Lake middle schools participated in a pilot of the program in December 2008, when 16 families received computers. Applications were distributed to students at the five schools in mid-February and principals urged eligible students to apply. The only stipulation to receiving the free computer was that the students and their parents agree to attend a 2½-hour workshop where they will learn how to set up the computer and printer at home, as well as how to use the computer to create and print a document. At the end of the workshop, they take home an Internet-ready personal computer system.
Local non-profits working to bring the digital divide to a close! Great work.