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On Thursday, April 23, 2020, Chicago Beyond hosted Tech on the Block: Educational Tech Inequities and COVID-19.   

Chicago Beyond’s Founder and CEO, Liz Dozier, moderated a conversation with Jennie Magiera, the Global Head of Education Impact at Google, and Miyoshi Knox, the Principal at Stagg School of Excellence in Englewood, Chicago.  These education leaders provided us with insights on educational challenges that many young people faced prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, which are now exacerbated during COVID-19 due to a number of inequities.  They also shared strategies and opportunities for taking radical change right now to shift the playing field for all young people, especially those in the hardest hit communities of Chicago and other cities like ours.  

You can watch the conversation above.

In addition, please see below for thoughts to some of the questions raised during by the audience that we were not able to get to during the actual conversation.   

Technology Access 

Several questions were asked on the availability of technology access for our students. For example,  

How many students in Chicago currently have laptops? How many are lacking devices and/or internet access? Have students been able to learn remotely? 

As of April 22, 2020, Chicago Public Schools (CPS) has given out 61,000 computers that were in stock and will hand out the remaining 43,000. There will be 100,000 computers and tablets distributed. CPS has also ordered 10,000 more devices. 

Estimates show that 115,000 students need devices. CPS reported that about 146 schools out of its 640 schools had a device for every student. 

SourcesWBEZ, Chicago’s NPR News SourceChicago Tribune 

Resources for Teachers, Parents and Students 

What are some resources for people to help find specific information and ideas for learning at home, teaching via technology, creating learning opportunities for low-income, etc.? 

Google for Education has provided numerous tools and resources for parents, teachers, and students. A good starting point is: 

Additional resources could also be found at: 

How to get involved 

What can I do right now to help kids who are facing challenges with online learning? 

Becoming more aware of the challenges and the inequities is critical to supporting our youth and our communities.  Some additional reading: One in Five Chicago Students Lack Broadband 

Explore ways to close some of the divides, such as donating to organizations that are providing hotspots and internet services, e.g., Children First Fund’s Compassion Fund