Today’s reality: basic technology and Internet access are missing in the lives of the majority of local low-income public school students. Few have computers at home and technology conditions at their schools are typically abysmal.
We want to change this statistic: in a 2012-13 report on 40 urban school districts nationally, the School District of Philadelphia ranked second from the bottom in the average age of its computers, and fourth from the bottom in computers and tablets per student.(1)
Many classrooms do not have a single working computer. In the lucky schools that have or had a computer lab in the past, the replaced computers were distributed to classrooms and are either riddled with malware or too outdated to run the websites teachers need. Some schools may have one or two laptop carts containing 25 or so laptops that are shared among many classrooms. And even those shared carts can be in disrepair.
As a result, teachers and their students cannot access proven web-based tools that greatly enhance learning. Many students leave the school, with only an hour or so a week of computer and Internet exposure, if the school is lucky enough to have a working lab with working units.
This certainly contributes to the fact that only a dismal 22 percent of the Class of 2017 will graduate on time, according to a 2015 School District of Philadelphia study. (2)
The majority of students that do not graduate on time drop out altogether. Of these:
- 67% are economically challenged,
- 59% are male and 58% are African American.
- The majority of dropouts score basic or below on 8th grade math.
- Over-age, previously-held-back 9th graders are more likely to drop out
These citywide averages are probably weighted down by the schools PCF supports, where the statistics are likely much worse!
What We Do
PCF helps address these issues and close the digital divide for tomorrow’s leaders attending low-income area Philadelphia public schools.
Our formula is simple: When local companies upgrade their still-very-usable computers, our volunteers collect, clean and re-furbish them for installation into classrooms that need them. We need your financial support to buy refurbishing parts, power strips, networking and to offset installation costs.
Once installed, these units become essential tools for teachers to assist all students but especially those that are behind, and they help keep order in the classroom.
- Teachers tell us they love having our computers permanently installed in their classrooms where they are utilized constantly, particularly for accessing the successful educational websites made available by the school district: First-in-Math, Lexia (reading/writing), SumDog, ABCya, Class DoJo, Kahn Academy, etc.
- They are fast and have low viruses or malware risk, since we use Linux
- As a school district partner, PCF is allowed to work with schools directly and our units are all put on the district’s network and behind their firewall.
Feedback from our classrooms has been overwhelmingly positive, as detailed on our testimonials page.
The schools we have supported have seen an improvement in math and reading performance as a result of being able to access web-based “Intervention Tools” during class. In our testimonials, one teacher states that six of her held back kindergarten students moved up to 1st grade before the end of the year, putting them back on track. Other teachers spoke to the ability to use the educational websites to track students’ individual progress and address specific shortcomings.
PCF currently has over 2,000 computers in our warehouse and more promised. We also have volunteers to help rehab and deliver them – although we could always use more.
Our funding, however, limits us since it costs us about $5,000 per school installation. Please consider making a donation today!
(1) Report gives District low technology ranking; The Notebook, April 2015; http://thenotebook.org/april-2015/158382/report-gives-district-low-technology-ranking
(2) High School Graduation, Dropout, and Retention, January 6, 2015, School District of Philadelphia; http://webgui.phila.k12.pa.us/uploads/zp/XR/zpXRP2gKeFXQY-3TPN_alw/HS-Grad-and-Drop-FINAL.pdf