Bridging the Digital Divide – one laptop at a time


November 6, 2020

By Elaina Mule, Senior Manager, Community Outreach

As Valeria Gurr, from the Federation for Children, handed a laptop to Camila, a fifth-grade student in the Las Vegas school system, Camila began to cry. While the COVID-19 pandemic has been stressful for many adults and families, Valeria has seen firsthand how children experience pandemic-related stress as they tackle their virtual school year from their homes.

For Camila, the donated laptop is the family’s first computer. It will enable her to complete her classes and schoolwork online, as the entire Clark County School District in Las Vegas has been remote since March. Camila will share her laptop with her three brothers so that they can all thrive in their new digital educational environment.

Laptops like Camila’s have been purchased through financial donations or obtained through refurbished computer donations. Thirty-seven machines have been donated to date to the Federation for Children from Charles Schwab. Schwab has partnered with Sage Sustainable Electronics for the past two years to refurbish and reprogram laptops for communities in need. Camila’s school district distributed more than 110,000 laptops to students in need of a device. Still, more than 70,000 students were still on a waiting list when the school year began, and more than 87,000 students did not log on for their first two days of school.

The Las Vegas community-wide initiative was born to help bridge the digital divide, and make sure all students, especially low-income students, have access to a device as well as a connection to the Internet. To date, more than 165 families in Nevada have been supported by this initiative and the Federation for Children has been in touch with hundreds more still waiting for a laptop.

Since 2019, Charles Schwab has donated nearly 600 laptops, distributed to families in need through partnerships with more than 25 nonprofits. The donation to the Federation for Children is particularly important, as Southern Nevada is a key part of our Community Reinvestment Act Strategic Plan and is a community that Schwab is highly invested in supporting. Amber Exum, a Schwab employee, graciously coordinates and leads this initiative outside of her day-to-day role and processes all laptop donation requests. Considering we are in an increasingly digital and remote world, Charles Schwab’s contribution to digital inclusion, particularly in Nevada, has never been more important.