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The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated challenges caused by the digital divide in Baltimore. According to the 2018 American Community Survey, 96,000 households in Baltimore (40.7%) did not have broadband internet service, and one in three households did not have either a desktop or laptop computer.
As COVID-19 forced closures of schools, businesses, libraries, and community centers, access to public computers shut down for thousands of residents in Baltimore, widening the digital divide. Because of the pandemic, close to 60,000 households in the city remain disconnected from everyday needs, including education, mental health and healthcare services, employment opportunities, skills development, and social connections.
In response to these challenges, in early 2020, Libraries Without Borders US cofounded the Baltimore Digital Equity Coalition (BDEC). Over 80 local organizations and foundations, including PCs for People, Baltimore City Public Schools, Byte Back, and the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation, participate in the coalition, working together to close the digital divide in Baltimore and to connect community members to critical online resources. The goal of this coalition is to support a coordinated, rapid response to digital access during COVID-19, while also addressing the long-term digital needs of Baltimore’s residents.
The Baltimore Digital Equity Coalition consists of four teams with distinct goals:
Since March of 2020, the Baltimore Digital Equity Coalition has:
To get involved, please fill out this form: http://bit.ly/GetInvolvedBDEC
For questions and more information, please contact LWB US Executive Director Adam Echelman at firstname.lastname@example.org.