Funds Raised to Provide Internet Access to Low-Income Stamford Families
STAMFORD, Conn. (June 29, 2021) — To address the challenges of learning in the virtual era, Ernst & Young LLP (EY US) has teamed with United Way of Western Connecticut to raise $12,000 to provide reliable internet service via hotspots to low-income families in Stamford. A number of families are benefiting from this “Bridge the Digital Divide” campaign. The families that are benefiting were identified by the Stamford Public Education Foundation (SPEF) as facing technology challenges over the past year. United Way of Western Connecticut raised additional funds to address these challenges, bringing the total amount donated to SPEF to approximately $16,000.
During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, it became obvious that low-income families and many minority families were at a disadvantage because they could not afford reliable internet and other technology needed for remote learning. Children who did not have access to technology and the ability to use it faced barriers to learning as 100% virtual and hybrid learning models were put in place. There was also the realization that this “digital divide” between lower and higher income students would persist beyond the pandemic, as so much learning now revolves around the use of the internet. The world of information available to higher income children at home was essentially unavailable to children whose parents could not afford reliable internet service.
The EY Bridge the Digital Divide Campaign was launched in 2020 to reflect the firm’s core values and commitment to anti-racism. This effort in Stamford is one of a number of efforts across the country led by EY US, in association with local United Ways, to address technology issues that create learning gaps. Efforts across the nation have focused on increasing connectivity, expanding the availability of computers and providing mentors to students. EY professionals raised funds through United Way campaigns.
“Our first priority was to understand and address the digital divide gaps in our local community. By working with United Way and the Stamford Public Education Foundation, we were able to diagnose the largest needs among low-income families in Stamford,” said Bud McDonald, Stamford Office Managing Partner, EY US. “United Way’s infrastructure and relationships enabled a successful fundraising campaign and distribution of internet hotspots to families in the local Stamford area within a few weeks of working together. Our relationships with United Way and the Stamford Public Education Foundation are invaluable as we continue to tackle this important issue.”
“The pandemic put a spotlight on the many learning barriers faced by low-income children — technology being among the most prominent,” said Isabel Almeida, President of United Way of Western Connecticut. “We’re grateful that EY US recognized this issue and worked with us and their teams to get reliable connectivity to these Stamford families at a time of critical need.”
For more information on creating custom workplace fundraising campaigns to address community problems, contact Stacy Schulman at United Way of Western Connecticut at 203 826 8479 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The EY Bridge the Digital Divide Campaign worked with United Way of Western Connecticut in Stamford to raise $12,000 to provide connectivity to low-income Stamford families that cannot afford reliable internet service. United Way raised additional dollars in Stamford, bringing the campaign total to approximately $16,000. Many of the children identified by SPEF as needing technology assistance go to Children’s Learning Centers. Pictured from left: Brooke Steinhiser, Bridget Fox, Mike Mills, Chris Filiberto, Malena Loucks and Jennifer Hallissey.