Diversity & Inclusion
COVID-19 / Digital access / Nonprofits

How the NERDiT Foundation is helping meet the community’s digital needs

With Delawareans sheltering in place, access to devices is essential.

The NERDiT Foundation has been serving the community since 2017. (Courtesy photo)

When NERDiT Now cofounder Markevis Gideon was 12 years old, a teacher gave him a computer.

Today, he, along with business partner Jake Voorhees, is helping make sure that no one in Delaware is without a laptop, as the state’s shelter in place order has no known end and schools are closed for the rest of the year.

Giving away refurbished computers to people in need is business as usual for NERDiT NOW, which, with its offshoot the NERDiT Foundation, donates devices and computers on a regular basis, including whole computer labs.

But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, “business as usual” lost all meaning, and the company, which has a storefront in the First State Plaza in Stanton, stepped it up and partnered with Delaware Community Foundation, Delaware Alliance for Nonprofit Advancement and Discover Bank, which recently granted $75,000 for the project.

Filmmakers Chris Bruce and Jono Hooper of King Creative along with Malcolm Coley and Newdy Fulton from Influencers Labs Media are on board as the project’s media team.

“Based on the U.S. Census Bureau, 20.2% of Wilmington residents do not have a computer at home at all,” said Voorhees, via email. “That’s over 14,000 Wilmingtonians — many of which need to find a way to work from home right now.”

The particularly vulnerable, he said, are people who work in social services: “People who have chosen social impact work generally earn a lesser salary and fewer office resources such as work laptops.”

Also vulnerable are school children. While all of Delaware’s public school children have access to devices like laptops and tablets — students in the Red Clay Consolidated School District are issued webbooks from grades two to 12, for example — there are still gaps. Younger students may not be allowed to take issued webbooks home, some schools rely on laptop carts that stay in the classroom, and if an inexpensive school-issued webbook stops working, there may be no other laptop in the home.

“We have been in conversation with EastSide Charter School, the Community Education Building, Delaware Health and Social Services, and more,” said Voorhees. “Organizations from Philadelphia are reaching out as well.”

This week, the project is donating about 75 computers to nonprofit organizations that need them, including:

  • Read Aloud DE
  • Police Athletic Association of DE
  • La Esperanza Inc. 
  • Latin American Community Center 
  • Greater Lewes Community Village 
  • Strive 
  • Parent Information Center of DE 
  • Planned Parenthood DE 
  • Girls Inc of DE 
  • Community Senior Center

This is an ongoing community project. If you or your organization is interested in funding a campaign or know a nonprofit or individual in need of devices, contact the NERDiT Foundation at markevis@nerditfoundation.org or jake@nerditfoundation.org.

Companies: NERDiT NOW
Series: Coronavirus

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