By Dana Barrett
Limited access to technology contributes to economic poverty. Have you ever stopped to imagine how different your life would be without the technology that many of us take for granted every day? Having a computer or laptop with internet access has become the standard in middle- and upper-class communities across the U.S. However, according to a report by the Pew Research Center 4 in 10 adults with income below $30,000 per year do not own a computer or have access to broadband internet services. Imagine not having the ability to research homework or the latest news with the touch of a finger? Computers and technology are vital for simple but important daily tasks like filing a job application or signing up for healthcare. Imagine dropping job applications and resumes at each site with an opportunity like in the old days, then add up the time, printing and transportation costs that involves. Those costs still effect the under-served. Are You Familiar with the Digital Divide? It’s glaringly apparent how technology is a gateway to opportunity, and without it economic poverty and income inequality take root. Consider the shift to technology- based business processes over the last decade, and how remote work and schooling became crucial ways to stay competitive in the last 18 months. The impact was felt by both children and adults all across the globe. For members of underserved communities, lack of access to computers or internet service had a devastating impact. As a society, we are turning a corner where we will depend less and less on manual labor. Consequently, hundreds of low-skilled workers end up losing their jobs and without access to computers or computer-based education, they lack the ability to retool to join the 21st-century workforce and compete for higher-paying jobs. Students without access to educational technology will be shut out as their generation moves past them. According to Paul M. Ong of the UCLA Center for Neighborhood Knowledge - “The disparities in limited technological resources for virtual learning are not just today’s education crisis, persistent digital inequality threatens to deepen disparities in achievement as minority and low-income children become adults, contributing to an intergenerational reproduction of inequality”. Technology and Girls Globally, girls are disproportionately impacted by lack of access to computers and computer-based education. According to a report released by the U.N. on ‘International Day of the Girl Child’, October 10th – there are 1.1 billion girls in the world that could grow up to change the world if they were given access to education, proper resources and a pathway to create a better future. ‘The global internet user gender gap is growing, from 11 percent in 2013 to 17 percent in 2019 and is widest in the world’s least developed countries at 43 percent.’ If those girls in need are provided the technological entrée computers and the internet provide, educational opportunities and community support, we help close this gap and allow them to help shape our world for the better. And What about the Human Benefits of Technology? The stay-at-home restrictions of Covid-19 also brought to light the value between technological connection and social-emotional health. Connectivity – The ability to maintain bonds with loved ones in distant places across digital networks during times of hardship greatly alleviated feelings of isolation. Today it allows people to interact and learn about the world far beyond their own expectations. Opportunities for knowledge become limitless – the world expands. Elevated Life Solutions – Equally Together, We Move Forward. Or mission is to help those in need, to get technology to the underserved for free, and strive to reduce this digital divide in low-income and underserved communities. We have distributed $50,000 worth of refurbished laptops to families ‘without’ in the Los Angeles area already. We will be donating another $25,000 worth of laptops to underserved families this fall. These computers are refurbished with the help of your generous donations. A gift of technology #uplifts many people who never thought they would be able to afford such a thing. It allows them to #GetElevated and gives them hope where before they had none before. And, as always, we believe when you elevate others, you elevate yourself.