Thanks to the Maryland Department of Labor, and our elected leaders, the Strong City Baltimore’s Adult Learning Center (ALC) has received 68 new Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 laptops. By distributing these new laptops to our adult learns, the ALC is able to expand its distance learning capacity by 377%, meeting a critical need for adults continuing their education through the COVID-19 pandemic. Each laptop will allow learners to have free access to foundational skills training, GED prep, and English language classes.
This strategic investment in adult education comes at a critical moment. At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the ALC rapidly transitioned to distance learning, yet with only 18 laptops available to learners, many were left without access and asking for help. This is a systemic challenge in our communities: 75,000 Baltimore households (31.5%) did not have a laptop or desktop computer as of 2018, according to analysis by the Abell Foundation. The lack of computer access severely impacts Baltimoreans with low-incomes, as 80% of the homes without computers are among the bottom half of the city’s income distribution. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the “technology gap,” leaving many adults unequipped to participate in a quickly changing economy and social landscape.
“Many of our adult learners spent their entire education careers in broken down buildings using out-of-date textbooks, not finishing high school for a variety of reasons. Frankly, for many of our learners this investment is the first time their government has shown them that they have value,” says ALC Executive Director, Dr. Jesse Schneiderman.
“Our learners see this gift as an investment in their futures and their abilities. The everyday lives of our learners reveal the importance and necessity of our work, as the Adult Learning Center empowers and changes the lives of the people who have the courage and persistence to continue their education throughout these times.”
Consider the impact of access and education on just one of the ALC’s adult learners. “*Kimberly” was a pre-GED student during our spring semester, which was interrupted by the pandemic. She felt that she didn’t have the computer skills to continue her learning, and she skipped a few classes when we transitioned to distance learning. But with encouragement from her teacher and a loaner laptop from the Adult Learning Center, she began successfully attending class and completing online work.
She was so motivated with her newfound computer ability and enhanced reading skills that she decided to turn her hobby into a business. She opened an online jewelry store on Etsy. Her story is just one among many students that developed their computer literacy skills, which in turn has given them confidence to tackle real-life challenges.
These laptops will improve learning, enhance lives, and strengthen the neighborhoods where our learners live, play, work, and dream.
You can empower adult learners in Baltimore, like Kimberly, by donating today.
*Name changed to protect learner’s privacy.