As schools across the country transitioned to virtual learning amid the coronavirus pandemic, the digital divide among students has been pushed to the forefront of a national conversation. NBA star Russell Westbrook is on a mission to ensure that youth are equipped with the tools needed to continue their studies remotely, ESPN reported.
Westbrook’s nonprofit the Why Not? Foundation—an organization created to empower youth in underserved communities through education-focused programs—joined forces with Comp-U-Dopt and Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner‘s office of education to donate 650 computers to children in need. Aware of the socio-economic factors that often result in the lack of accessibility to computers and the internet, Westbrook wanted to step up and make sure that underprivileged students can continue their education despite the public health crisis. “It’s something that I’m very, very passionate about through my foundation, and I’m just trying to find a way — especially now — to be able to bridge the gap, and give kids access to another way of learning, through computers,” he said in a statement, according to CBS Sports. “This allows them to be able to continue their education, especially from home. I’m happy to be a part of it.”
The leadership team at Comp-U-Dopt is grateful for Westbrook’s donation and believes it will be instrumental in the progression of educational equity. “He really wants to help out the students here in Houston who need this resource,” Comp-U-Dopt Executive Director Colin Dempsey said in a statement. “And we know in historically underserved communities here in Houston that the digital divide is even greater here and this crisis has really put a spotlight on that divide.”
The digital divide has been a pressing issue in Houston. Mayor Turner reported nearly 140,000 children don’t have access to a computer and 200,000 don’t have internet connection; ultimately preventing them from participating in e-learning courses and completing school assignments. Westbrook has been a fierce advocate for tech education. In August 2019, he launched a Los Angeles-based STEM education program for at-risk teens in Los Angeles.