‘Meet the Need’ computer drive aims to close digital divide for low-income families

Got an old computer that’s gathering dust? It could help an Orange County student navigate distance learning.

OCDE is teaming up with Cox Communications, Cox Business and the Orange County Business Council to rally businesses and the public to take part in a two-week computer drive that will put refurbished devices in the hands of local students who need them.

OCDE Associated Superintendent Nina Boyd
OCDE Associate Superintendent Nina Boyd helps launch the “Meet the Need” computer drive with representatives from Cox Communications, Cox Business and the Orange County Business Council.

Computers 2 Kids, which recycles and refurbishes used computers and delivers them low-income families, says it’s received a record number of requests during the COVID-19 pandemic, as school districts pivoted to online learning and hybrid models.

The organization will work to close that digital gap this month by partnering with local agencies to collect gently used computers, laptops, tablets, gaming systems, monitors, printers, keyboards, computer mice and tablets. C2K will also dispose of old electronics, including televisions, stereos, speakers and cell phones.

All items will be completely scrubbed of personal data in compliance with the U.S. Department of Defense sanitization standards, and tax receipts will be provided upon request.

The “Meet the Need” computer drive began Monday, Nov. 9 with a kick-off event at the Orange County Fair & Events Center. From Nov. 10 through Nov. 20, donations can be made at the following Cox Retail Store locations:

  • Woodbury Town Center, 6234 Irvine Blvd., Irvine
  • Plaza de la Paz Shopping Center, 27321 La Paz Road, Suite B, Laguna Niguel

Bins located in the front of each store will allow for contactless drop-offs during regular business hours.

Meeting the need

When schools pivoted to distance learning in mid-March, OCDE distributed nearly 1,800 hotspots to help local districts expand connectivity. The department also worked with the state to deliver approximately 500 laptops and advised local districts on how to procure wireless equipment and devices for distance learning.

While a number of campuses have since re-opened for in-person instruction, some districts are continuing to offer remote instruction or hybrid models.

“Since the pandemic began last spring, we have all had to adjust to new ways of doing business and delivering services,” said OCDE Associate Superintendent Nina Boyd, who oversees Governance, Leadership and Community Partnerships. “Our schools are no different.”

An overwhelming majority of Orange County residents have computers and smartphones in their homes, including about 90 percent with broadband internet access. But a substantial number of families still need devices and a reliable connection.

“This partnership will assist our vulnerable populations of students even more as we reach out to the community at large to encourage businesses and families to donate computers that can be refurbished and provided to students in need,” Boyd said.

To learn more about the Meet the Need drive, take a look at the flier below or visit www.c2sdk.org/MeetTheNeedOC.

Computer drive flier