Tablets Come to Learning Zone After-School Program

The Lowell Housing Authority has recently established a Digital Inclusion Initiative to increase technological aptitude and awareness, expand economic opportunities, and advance educational attainment objectives for residents. One of the LHA’s focus areas is the Learning Zone After-School programs which serve 20 youth between our North Common Village and Highland Parkway developments in grades 2 through 8. After surveying Learning Zone participants and consulting with several housing authorities across the country, the LHA decided that providing tablets would be the best initial step. In May, the Lowell Housing Authority submitted a grant proposal to Enterprise Bank to support the Digital Inclusion Initiative and was awarded $4,000 grant. With the support from Enterprise Bank, the Lowell Housing Authority will be able to purchase 20 tablets for participants, and will help to provide a value resource for program participants.

According to the Pew Research Center, without internet access, many low-income students face a “homework gap,” creating an uneven playing field in the classroom; low-income households with children are four times more likely to be without broadband than their middle- or upper-income counterparts. The survey of Learning Zone participants revealed that 35% have no internet access at home and additional 23% of participants are considered to be under-connected, having access to only a mobile phone to access the internet.

Maria Lobao, Vice President of the Enterprise Bank, expressed that this initiative will have a “profound impact on our youth and she looks forward to seeing the initiative unfold.” The support received from Enterprise Bank helps us continue to drive the Learning Zone’s mission to further promote academic success and broaden one’s quest for knowledge.

In August, all 20 Learning Zone participants will receive tablets. At that time, Learning Zone staff will engage participants with tablet demos which will serve as an invaluable learning tool, particularly for youth who do not have access to internet in the home. Participants will also be introduced to resources they can access online. Throughout the year, they will have the support of Learning Zone staff to usher them towards their educational pursuits. Ultimately, LHA’s Digital Inclusion Initiative will empower our youth to have a stronger command of technology and use of the internet to compliment their education.