Into Their Palms, a brand new Pittsburgh nonprofit, is tackling technological inequity within the age of COVID-19 — and founder Ilana Solomon, a Jewish skilled who moved to Pittsburgh after graduating from Columbia College in 2019, is able to tackle some massive points via her group’s try and get working laptops to college students who want them.
“For digital studying, it’s so important to have a pc — and there’s a spot,” mentioned Solomon, 23, who works for a expertise consultancy and lives in Shadyside. “Our mission is to bridge the digital divide by redistributing laptops to college students in want. That is particularly essential now in our pandemic-induced digital world.”
An estimated one in 4 low-income college students would not have entry to a pc or web connection, Solomon mentioned. Almost half of all college students within the lowest earnings brackets — these with household incomes under $30,000 — depend upon a cellphone to do their homework.
COVID-19 has exacerbated the issue. An estimated 11 million American youngsters can have issue this 12 months finishing an internet task, Solomon mentioned.
Sparked by COVID-19, Solomon and Into Their Palms began reaching out to firms and bigger firms nationwide to recycle their used laptops. The group has began small, placing collectively a donation of 16 laptops to the Boys & Ladies Membership of America from a enterprise headquartered in Chicago. Subsequent up, Solomon hopes, are Pittsburgh companies and Pittsburgh-area teams for youngsters and youths.
“Our objective for the group is far larger than this,” Solomon mentioned. “However this can be a good begin.”
Launched simply this summer time, Into Their Palms continues to be processing its nonprofit tax standing paperwork. However its age doesn’t replicate the depths of the passions of its co-founders, 4 younger professionals who attended elementary college alongside Solomon. They are saying they’re devoted to placing within the sweat fairness to make Into Their Palms work. Every is concerned in vetting the tools they obtain for donations.
“Most laptops, they’ve a whole lot of life in them,” Solomon instructed the Chronicle, “even after firms get [their employees] a brand new one.”
Feedback from the children who’ve used the donated laptops in Illinois communicate volumes.
“I can depend upon the pc and expertise on the Membership to affix my digital classroom and full my e-learning homework,” one mentioned.
Solomon feels the act of taking donated enterprise laptops and giving them to these most in want is a type of tzedakah. Although she says she identifies as largely secular, Solomon was concerned with Hillel programming at Columbia and has volunteered via the Younger Grownup Division of the Jewish Federation of Higher Pittsburgh.
“This can be a very Jewish exercise and factor — it’s about respect, duty, caring, kindness, sustainability,” she mentioned. “All of these items are very Jewish. For me, working with Into Their Palms looks like a Jewish act.” PJC
Justin Vellucci is a contract author dwelling in Pittsburgh.