Nonprofits Seek Equitable Technology Access
Doris Robinson was preparing to retire after a career as a school administrator. One call from her good friend who ran a nonprofit dedicated to helping young, Black men prepare and apply for college changed all that.
“We wanted to keep these young men away from falling into bad habits,” said Robinson. “We wanted to create a paradigm shift and show them what was possible by continuing their education.”
Hoping to help strengthen college matriculation rates in her community, Robinson decided to continue her lifelong work in education and accepted a role as director of the Long Beach Math Collaborative. Focusing on STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, participants are enrolled in a two-week summer program at California State University, Long Beach, which includes access to community resources, meals and counseling. The $50,000 grant provided by Edison International will help next summer’s class of students.
“I thank Edison every day because they started out with us and have continued to help us provide for our students every year,” said Robinson. The Math Collaborative also has developed an alumni program to support graduating participants through college, the military and their professional lives.
As the largest city in Southern California Edison’s service area, Long Beach is home to a variety of community groups dedicated to greater digital equity.
“In our technologically dependent society, we as community leaders must commit to prioritizing digital access and inclusion,” said Larry Chung, vice president of Local Public Affairs for SCE. “Our nonprofit partners funded through this initiative have demonstrated their commitment through equal access to technology associated with educational programming, social wellness and career development.”
Another Long Beach grant recipient, Human-I-T, will use $30,000 in Edison funding in a similarly holistic fashion.
“We started in a small warehouse, refurbishing computers and other technology and expanded from there,” said program manager Fiona Foster.
Now, Human-I-T teaches how to identify affordable internet options and determine what solutions will work best for students. Its digital literacy program guides participants from the basics of how to operate a computer to using a computer for school, telehealth or access to social services.
State Assemblymember Patrick O’Donnell (D-70), whose district includes Long Beach, said, “As a teacher and chair of the Assembly Education Committee, I know firsthand the struggles families experienced with distance learning. Thanks to Southern California Edison for expanding digital and technology access, especially to those who need it most. A child connected to the internet is a child connected to better educational opportunities.”
Edison is collaborating with three additional nonprofits in Long Beach working toward greater digital equity:
Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said, “As more and more things that we do everyday move online — especially throughout this pandemic — digital inclusion has become an even more crucial issue to tackle head-on. We are grateful for Southern California Edison’s work to partner with our community organizations to meet this important need.”
For more information on the initiatives empowered by grant funding through Edison International, visit SCE.com/community.