Softchoice Cares returning to Rajasthan, India in October

For over 10 years, Softchoice Cares has worked to ‘bridge the digital divide’ in communities across North America and places around the world. We believe that access to technology opens up a world of possibilities for disadvantaged families – particularly children – to learn and develop new skills, and break the cycle of poverty. [Read more…]

Unleashing the potential of Toronto’s next ‘tech hub’

I first met Andray Domise, co-founder of Techsdale, in 2014 when he was running for Toronto City Council, and I volunteered to canvas for his campaign. [Read more…]

How do you fight child poverty in the 21st century? One classroom at a time

Fighting Child Poverty One Classroom At A Time

(Students’) success or failure in the public schools will determine the entire body of human capital and educational potential that the nation will possess in the future. Without improving the educational support that the nation provides its low income students – students with the largest needs and usually with the least support — the trends of the last decade will be prologue for a nation not at risk, but a nation in decline.”

Southern Education Fund, “A New Majority Research Bulletin: Low Income Students Now a Majority in the Nation’s Public Schools,” 2015.

Today, more than 15 million American children (1-in-5) and one million Canadian children (1-in-6) are growing up poor. For these children, learning to use technology through a quality education is pivotal to breaking the cycle of poverty.

The barriers created by child poverty cut across home life, physical and mental health, education and career prospects. At-risk children typically experience delays in learning preparedness before they begin school and limited access to learning resources, mentors and support networks. To lift a child out of poverty requires a variety of interventions from infancy to adulthood, but we can point to the quality of development during the early years of childhood as a critical foundation for their entire life journey.

So what happens in the classroom matters. A lot.

Introducing young students to digital learning and technology in the classroom produces substantial improvements in their achievement, especially for at-risk students. [i]  According to Kwame Johnson, Executive Director of PowerMyLearning, Atlanta:

“Children living in poverty face significant academic barriers, so exposing them to technology and digital learning resources in school and in the home can be a game changer. Classroom technology fosters a love of learning, builds self-confidence, and develops the problem solving and collaboration skills critical to thriving in the 21st century. You can draw a correlation between a student’s academic success in Grade 4 and what they do later in life. If low-income students are allowed to struggle early on, their chance of graduating high school on time and finding a meaningful career decreases significantly. By engaging them through early experiences with digital learning, the skills they learn will carry on through their entire K-12 experience and help prepare them for the jobs of tomorrow.”

While technology is ubiquitous across North America, access to technology is not universal. Underfunding of public schools limits access to learning resources, books and technology.  As a result, schools have come to rely on community and parent fundraising to bridge these funding gaps. This places schools in low-income neighborhoods at a particular disadvantage, since low-income families cannot contribute nearly as much as more affluent communities.

The study “Public System, Private Money” found that over three years, the top 20 primary schools in the Toronto District School Board generated 36 times more dollars through fundraising than the most marginalized 20 schools: $249,362 per school compared to $6,922 per school.[ii] An analysis of the U.S. education system produced by The Education Fund discovered that the highest poverty districts receive $1,200 less per student than the lowest poverty districts—for an elementary school of 500 students, this means a funding gap of $600,000 per year. [iii]

If the road to success is education, the fast lane is paved with 21st century learning. For every child to succeed academically, we need to remove the barriers to accessing technology that prevent children from moving out of poverty.

Fighting child poverty one classroom (and one grant) at a time

At Softchoice, we believe that every child deserves the same opportunity to benefit from high quality digital learning. Our POWER UP program provides technology grants of $10,000 to put students from low income communities on the path to future success.

Grants are available to public elementary and middle schools in Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Dallas, Atlanta, Toronto and Montreal with demonstrated need and a vision for how technology can unleash the potential of their students.

Apply now or nominate a school in need .

Application deadline is November 11, 2016.

Grant recipients will be announced December 1, 2016.

Softchoice is pleased to partner with Lenovo to deliver POWER UP. Softchoice’s share of the POWER UP grant funds were raised and donated by its employees through Softchoice Cares endeavors.

 
______________________________________________________________________________

Notes

[i]Using technology to support at-risk youth,” Stanford Center for Opportunity Policy in Education, 2014.
[ii]Public System, Private Money: Fees, Fundraising and Equity in the Toronto District School Board,” Social Planning Toronto, 2011.
[iii]  “Funding Gaps 2015: Too Many States Still Spend Less on Educating Students Who Need the Most,” The Education Trust, 2015.

Connecting to an international cause close to home

I was born in Bangladesh. I lived most of my early childhood in Kuwait. I then immigrated to Canada when I was 12 years old.

Our family struggled upon our arrival in Canada as my dad worked to get himself established and give us the opportunity we needed to live comfortably. It was because of those years of hardship that I didn’t get the chance to go back to Bangladesh until just a few years ago as an adult. [Read more…]

An Escape from Reality – Childhood Cancer Canada and Softchoice Cares Day

Childhood Cancer Canada & Softchoice Cares

Softchoice has been working with Childhood Cancer Canada on a number of events, one of which was hosted at Softchoice’s Toronto office as part of our first ever, company-wide volunteer day Softchoice Cares Day. It was an opportunity for kids diagnosed with cancer to escape from their hospital surroundings and have fun being exactly that – kids. [Read more…]

Sorry Customers, Softchoice is Out-of-Office… all 1400+ of us

SCCaresDay

WOW, what a day! This is one of those days that makes me feel so fortunate to be part of an amazing team at Softchoice. Not only do we have a smart, fun, All-Star crew, but we also care. We care about our customers, we care about each other, and today we showed in full force how much we care about the communities in which we live. [Read more…]