In the News: Hillsborough Education Foundation Program Aims to Close Digital Learning Divide

Hillsborough Family Participates in HEF's Tech Connect program

By: Bay News 9

We’re one year into the pandemic, and school districts are still working to close the digital divide between students learning remotely and those being educated in person.

What You Need To Know

  • Hillsborough Education Foundation started program called Tech Connect to help families struggling with remote learning
  • About 300 families will be helped
  • It’s free for eligible students

To help fill the gap, the Hillsborough Education Foundation has started a program called Tech Connect.

The goal is to support about 300 families of elementary school students who are still doing e-learning.

Priscilla Ocasio is a single mom raising three boys who have been learning remotely since last March.

“It’s been really stressful. It made them anxious. Anxiety really hit us hard,” she said.

Ocasio said they had limited devices and couldn’t afford internet access. Through HEF’s Tech Connect program the family received a computer, internet hot spots, and guidance on how to use e-learning programs.

“My kids have been able to focus on their work and not have to worry about being behind because of connection issues,” she said.

The Tech Connect Program was funded by a grant from the Children’s Board of Hillsborough County.

It is a way to make sure families have a choice to do remote learning successfully and aren’t shut out by a lack of technology due to financial hardship.

“The purpose is to help families grow in their digital literacy and to get them connected,” HEF Tech Connect Coordinator Mindy Taylor said. “It’s very difficult when the students are not in the classroom with their teacher. They really need that connection to the teacher and to other students in the class.

Ocasio said her kids now are not only connected now, but thriving.

“My children tell me all the time they feel grateful and that they’re happy.”

The Tech Connect Program is free for eligible students, but they do have to be referred by a social worker, teacher or school administrator.

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