NBC’s Today show was live from Baltimore’s M&T Bank Stadium on Monday morning, but the Ravens’ big win wasn’t the only topic of conversation.
Broadcasting from the football field in a Ravens jersey, iconic broadcaster Al Roker unveiled a laptop donation for Digital Harbor High School, and other Baltimore orgs.
The Federal Hill high school received 1,500 laptops, plus 12 months of free internet service from Comcast’s Internet Essentials. Roker made the announcement to Digital Harbor Principal Dr. Taiisha Swinton-Buck, who was named Maryland Principal of the Year in 2021.
“At Digital Harbor High School, we’re focused on technology, Swinton-Buck told NBC. “Computers kept us connected during the COVID closures, and so we’re so happy that we can continue on trend.”
Principal @SwintonBuck of Digital Harbor High School was just named Maryland’s Principal of the Year! @alroker shares the inspiring story of how she leads her students with love, devotion and TikToks – plus, he reveals a special surprise! pic.twitter.com/v4lS5RRtiI
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) September 20, 2021
The national TV unveiling came as Comcast, which is the primary internet service provider in Baltimore City, donated a total of 3,000 laptops to local orgs. The Mayor’s Office of Employment Development received 1,000 devices, and the rest of the laptops, along with free internet service, are being distributed to Baltimore’s Promise, Catholic Charities of Baltimore, and the Community College of Baltimore County.
“We’re thrilled to see principal Swinton-Buck recognized today for her incredible accomplishments as an educator and a leader. We are also grateful for this wonderful donation from Comcast to our students,” said Sonja Brookins Santelises, CEO of Baltimore City Public Schools in a statement.
Device access became particularly urgent for students in the pandemic, as school shifted to distance learning in a city where one in three houses lacked access to a desktop or laptop, according to an Abell Foundation report. It led city leaders to prioritize distributing devices right alongside food.
Mayor Brandon Scott was also appreciative of the support from Comcast, adding, “As my administration works to close the digital divide, it helps to have committed partners like Comcast. Thanks to their donation, Baltimore students will be able to learn remotely with reliable, high-speed internet access.”
Comcast expects to announce more organizations that will receive donations at a later date. These donations, along with programs like the Emergency Broadband Benefit and community-based Lift Zones fit into Comcast’s push to be a part of the solution in solving the digital divide.
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.-30-