To help more Buffalo students have access to connectivity and equip them with the digital tools needed for their post-secondary educational pathways,AT&T and Say Yes Buffalo announced a contribution from AT&T to furnish Say Yes Buffalo Scholarship recipients with new high-end laptops for their educational studies. These laptops are intended to help minimize the digital divide faced by many Say Yes Buffalo students without the means to purchase such devices. Fifty percent of Say Yes Buffalo scholarship recipients come from households whose family income is under $50,000.
Students will receive brand new laptops that will help enable them to succeed in today’s digitally connected education environment. To meet the digital demand that post-secondary education students face and to ensure students have the tools to thrive, all the ultrathin laptops include extra memory, fast processors, HD cameras, large screens, Windows 11 Home operating system and extended service plans that allows for free repair or replacement if needed.
AT&T’s support of Say Yes Buffalo and the students is part of its AT&T Connected Learning initiative, and commitment to address the digital divide through investments in internet accessibility, affordability and the safe use of technology. In addition to the free laptops, students received information on educational resources, including The Achievery, AT&T’s free digital learning platform. They also were provided with information on the Affordable Connectivity Program, the federally-funded benefit program that helps ensure households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare and their newly-received laptops. The benefit provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households.
“We work every day at Say Yes Buffalo to remove barriers to educational and career attainment,” said Say Yes Buffalo CEO David Rust, “so we’re beyond grateful to AT&T for joining us in this mission. This gift promises to open many doors for our scholars and give them one less thing to worry about as they make the often challenging transition to postsecondary education.”
“AT&T is proud to collaborate with Say Yes to help close the digital equity gap in Buffalo. Many students and their families in Buffalo lack the devices needed for online learning,” said Kevin Hanna, director, External Affairs, AT&T. “Access to computers is vital in helping to bridge the digital divide, and we are glad we can provide these resources to those that need them most and build off our foundation of helping to bridge the digital divide across Buffalo and the region. I wish all the students best of luck in future educational pursuits and thank Say Yes for all they do for our community.”
In Buffalo, it’s estimated that more than 11,400 K-12 students1 don’t have access to the internet or computers needed at home to benefit from the online world, an issue known as the digital divide.
Students became eligible to receive laptops for higher education after attending the Say Yes Buffalo College Kickoff, a one-day crash course featuring five distinct seminars on topics including time management, college life, and financial aid. The program is particularly geared towards first-generation college students with the goal of improving persistence outcomes, given the many challenges economically disadvantaged students face pursuing postsecondary education.
Say Yes Buffalo first began helping its scholars bridge the digital divide in 2020 in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic when many institutions transitioned to virtual learning. The program has continued ever since to meet the tech need of its scholars.
This free laptop collaboration with Say Yes stems from AT&T’s continued commitment to help bridge the digital divide across the Buffalo region. Earlier this summer the company teamed up with the Buffalo Urban League to distribute 150 free laptops and digital literacy resources to local students and families impacted by the digital divide.
AT&T also worked with the Buffalo Urban League last year to launch the AT&T Digital Learning Lab @ Crucial, a community digital asset in East Buffalo that provides access to computers and connectivity for students and community members to thrive and obtain digital literacy skills. The Lab consists of more than 30 new computers, furniture, printers, 3D printers, software, tools for digital literacy classes, broadband, and an original mural at the Crucial Community Center at 230 Moselle Street. In addition, last year the company contributed to Mission Ignite, a local nonprofit that refurbishes computers, to be able to provide 2,000 free computers to students in need across Western New York over a two-year period.