Free lap­tops, school sup­plies handed out in En­gle­wood

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - BY MANNY RAMOS, STAFF RE­PORTER mramos@sun­times.com | @_ManuelRamo­s_ Manny Ramos is a corps mem­ber in Re­port for Amer­ica, a not-for-profit jour­nal­ism pro­gram that aims to bol­ster Sun-Times cov­er­age of is­sues af­fect­ing Chicago’s South and West sides.

Free lap­tops and school sup­plies were handed out in En­gle­wood on Thurs­day to help bridge the dig­i­tal di­vide for Chicago Pub­lic Schools stu­dents who are weeks away from be­gin­ning what will be a largely re­mote learn­ing ex­pe­ri­ence.

Sharon Baker was among the first in line to re­ceive the free lap­top com­puter and other school sup­plies for her 16-year-old grand­daugh­ter. She said the event was crit­i­cal in as­sur­ing her grand­daugh­ter doesn’t fall be­hind in her ed­u­ca­tion.

“The way that the world is now, it is the best thing for her ed­u­ca­tion, and this will make her ca­pa­ble of do­ing her on­line home­work,” Baker said. Re­mote learn­ing “is dif­fer­ent than what we are used to, and be­fore, she didn’t have a lap­top to use. So this is a huge help for us.”

Baker was one of 100 peo­ple win­ning a free lap­top in a raf­fle from Comp-U-Dopt, a na­tion­wide non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion help­ing un­der­served youth gain ac­cess to tech­nol­ogy.

Some­thing Good in En­gle­wood hosted the event at its head­quar­ters, 6701 S. Emer­ald Ave. A band per­formed as cars drove up to col­lect their goods. The com­mu­nity group also handed out book bags packed with pen­cils, note­books and other school ma­te­ri­als.

Nashone Greer-Adams, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Some­thing Good in En­gle­wood, said the part­ner­ship with Comp-U-Dopt was vi­tal to help­ing par­ents get the tech­nol­ogy their chil­dren need to thrive in school.

“This is a won­der­ful day and we are show­ing that we can come to­gether as a com­mu­nity and do the good work our kids need to suc­ceed,” Greer-Adams said. “We are just ex­cited be­cause it is a part of help­ing bridge that dig­i­tal gap.”

This week, CPS un­veiled its frame­work for com­plete e-learn­ing with stu­dents work­ing re­motely be­cause of the pan­demic.

Cherelle Bi­lal, or­ga­nizer with Some­thing Good in En­gle­wood, said the free lap­tops will also go a long way for fam­i­lies with mul­ti­ple chil­dren in school.

“It is ex­tremely im­por­tant be­cause now some kids will have their own com­puter ded­i­cated for learn­ing and won’t need to share it with their sib­lings,” Bi­lal said. “Each can ded­i­cate them­selves to learn­ing with­out be­ing both­ered to share a com­puter.”

Kaia Dut­ler, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of Comp-UDopt in Chicago, said as re­mote learn­ing be­comes the new nor­mal, her or­ga­ni­za­tion has been much busier pro­vid­ing tech to stu­dents whose fam­i­lies might not oth­er­wise be able to af­ford it. Since the pan­demic hit, her or­ga­ni­za­tion has given out 15,000 com­put­ers; in a nor­mal year, it only would give out about 3,000.

“Alone in Chicago, from April through Septem­ber, we will give away close to 6,000 com­put­ers,” Dut­ler said.

AN­THONY VAZQUEZ/SUN-TIMES

Cherelle Bi­lal (left) helps a res­i­dent at the school-sup­plies event in En­gle­wood.

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