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A report by the Abell Foundation in May 2020 outlined that more than 75,000 households lack a laptop or desktop computer and 96,000 households lack internet at home in Baltimore City. The digital divide is unequivocally tied to race, where 40 and 53 percent of Black and Latinx households in Baltimore lack a computer compared to 20 percent of white households. These gaps have disproportionately affected communities in Southwest Baltimore, which is predominately Black. Baltimore City Public Schools and numerous groups like the Baltimore Digital Equity Coalition have made bold efforts to distribute devices and/or hotspots to K-12 students and adult learners and to invest in point-to-point Mesh networks.
And yet, in a recent planning meeting at the Stillmeadow Community Fellowship Church, Edmondson-Westside teachers mentioned that around 20% of their students have not logged on to their student accounts. Many low-income students lack a space to learn remotely or may need supervision to learn. While this was true long before the COVID-19 pandemic, the closure of schools, libraries, and recreation centers has only exacerbated the problem.
In response to K-12 students and Baltimore residents’ needs, the Stillmeadow Community Fellowship Church (Stillmeadow) and Libraries Without Borders US (LWB US) have partnered to design and develop a permanent learning space, the Stillmeadow PeacePark Learning Center, that builds on the church’s existing role as a community resiliency hub in southwest Baltimore. With the support of the Abell Foundation, Fearless, the Baltimore Community Foundation, and the France-Merrick Foundation, this collaboration will promote youth education through three channels:
The project will continue long after the successful distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine: daytime activities for students will continue during summer vacation while after-school programming and workforce support will remain available year-round.
For questions and more information, please contact LWB US Baltimore Project Coordinator Alexis Taylor at firstname.lastname@example.org