The Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce’s Alachua County Education Compact, Gainesville Regional Utilities, and Jacobs (formerly CH2M) came together to bridge the digital divide for students at Eastside High School. Jacobs through their employee’s donation programs ENLACE and Bikes-n-Bytes provided seven brand new Dell laptops to Eastside High School.
Many students in major program courses at Eastside High School have difficulty completing homework assignments and projects because of a lack of access to technology at home. Financial constraints lead to lessened opportunities to compete in the educational setting. Many of the students are economically disadvantaged and of minority status. 85.3% of children in Alachua County live in poverty. Providing equitable opportunities for these students will help them reach a bar that appears far out of reach through an often-distressed student viewpoint.
“We would like to equip underprivileged students with chances to enhance digital literacy, as well as overall literacy,” says Dr. Anntwanique Edwards, Eastside Assistant Principal of Student Services.
If the school is unable to provide a technology solution students at Eastside will lag behind their counterparts when attempting to navigate technology and embrace literacy programming simply because they don’t have access and opportunities to practice. Florida statutes related to instructional materials for K-12 public schools required that by 2015-16 computer literacy skills be added to the curriculum. In the recently released Understanding Racial Inequity in Alachua County. The report stated that “A successfully educated resident will have a higher lifetime income, more and better employment opportunities, and is less likely to become involved with the criminal justice system.”
“Education and employment opportunities go hand-in-hand in any community. We formed the Alachua County Education Compact to build a bridge between area businesses and our educators — and to make these opportunities possible. We’re proud to have helped bring CH2M and GRU together to help these East Side High School students have more access to the tools and resources they need to succeed in business and life,” said Susan Davenport, President/CEO of the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce.
On Thursday, January 18, 2018, GRU and Jacobs presented seven new Dell Laptop computers to Principal Shane Andrews and Assistant Principal Anntwanique Edwards of Eastside High School.
“It is a pleasure for us to share this amazing opportunity through our partnership to honor our youth in the community. We are also elated about the potential of this donation to support students at Eastside High School and across Gainesville going forward,” says Yvette Carter, GRU Community Relations Director. The partnership between GRU, Jacobs, and Gainesville Commerce’s ACEC is bridging the digital divide and providing positive reinforcement for good behavior in academics to students who don’t have access to technology at home. Funding is provided through the Bikes-n-Bytes program, an employee-sponsored program, which started in 2001 to provide positive reinforcement for good behavior and academics. To date, the program has donated 676 bikes and 147 computers, laptops and tablets to deserving youth at various schools, churches, and youth centers in north Florida.
“Our employees enjoy giving back to their communities, and our employee-driven Bikes-n-Bytes program is an excellent example of this commitment! We also appreciate our sponsors who help raise funds for computers and bicycles for students who need them and have shown special interest in STEM,” says Pilar Doran, CH2M Gainesville, and Jacksonville Area Manager.
CH2M (now Jacobs) has worked with GRU since 1973, helping plan, design, and oversee construction of their water and wastewater facilities.
GRU’s community and educational initiatives support GRU’s mission to enhance the quality of life in our community through outreach, partnerships, and investments. GRU’s education initiatives also contribute to the utility’s overall succession planning strategy to develop local talent, trained and ready to step into positions as they become available.
About the Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce
The Gainesville Area Chamber of Commerce has been the voice of business in the Gainesville area since 1924. Representing over 1,300 members that employ more than 80,000 people, the Chamber is leading the effort to make the Gainesville region a global hub for talent, innovation, and opportunity. The Chamber is 5-Star Accredited by the United States Chamber of Commerce, putting it in the top 1% of all Chambers nationwide. Learn more at www.GainesvilleChamber.com or call us at 352.334.7100.