NAFEO, University System of Maryland Team Up on LaptopsCOLLEGE PARK, Md.
The National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education (NAFEO) and the University System of Maryland (USM) have announced a $1.2 million USM “Digital Divide Initiative” (DDI) grant to Coppin State College, University of Maryland Eastern Shore and Bowie State University. The schools are three of the four historically Black institutions in Maryland.
The grant will provide $400,000 to each institution and will finance the purchase of nearly 900 specially priced laptop computers, using a NAFEO/Gateway Computers agreement, for use by students with significant financial need. Eligible students will either own the computer for the duration of their time at the institution, or be able to check out a laptop from the library on a per-semester basis.
“Today a computer is an absolute necessity in any college environment,” says Dr. Frederick S. Humphries, president and CEO of NAFEO. “The USM grant to these historically Black colleges represents a great start toward closing the digital divide for low-income students. If you don’t have easy access to a computer, you don’t have equal access to a college education.”
“Computer access has become a major concern on campuses across the country,” says USM Chancellor William E. Kirwan. “Not only can computers improve a student’s ability to write and communicate, but the student who uses his or her computer effectively will come out of a classroom or laboratory better prepared to meet the challenges of the working world. In turn, those who do not have access to a computer are held back, in spite of their abilities. That’s not fair, and through this program we’re doing something about it.”
NAFEO, which is based in Silver Spring, Md., is the largest association of historically and predominantly Black colleges and universities. NAFEO represents both public and private institutions. Its member-institutions enroll nearly 400,000 students in 25 states, the District of Columbia and the Virgin Islands.
The University System of Maryland includes 13 distinct and complementary institutions. USM’s digital divide initiative is believed to be the first one using public dollars to put computers in the hands of college students on the basis of financial need.
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