Students on computers photo

Grangeville Elementary Middle School student Ryan Newson works at home on-line on a school reading project with a friend earlier this year.

GRANGEVILLE -- Are you interested in helping local kids own a computer and receive Internet access to assist in their education?

Thanks to Idaho Business for Education, a nonprofit organization of nearly 250 businesses across Idaho, individuals, businesses and organizations throughout Idaho County and beyond will have that opportunity Wednesday, Aug. 5, as part of the “Close the Divide” campaign.

Andrea Solberg, Kristi Brooks, Mary Jahn, Kirstin Jensen and Rachel Young serve on Innovia's Leadership Council. Innovia is a media sponsor for Close the Divide, and reached out to council members and invited them to participate in this effort.

“I took the lead to get it organized and with the help of Kristi, Mary, Kirstin and Rachel, we will be available on Aug. 5 to collect devices for kids,” explained Solberg.

This gathering day in Grangeville will be held at the Soltman Center from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

A survey by the State Board of Education of local school districts shows that nearly 200,000 students do not have a computer at home and at least 30,000 do not have Internet access.

The volunteers will be available to accept working condition used computers, notebooks, Chrome books and laptops, new devices and donations to help purchases these learning tools.

Solberg said she saw the research showing how many school-aged children in Idaho, and especially in rural areas, were without electronic learning devices and Internet access, and knew she wanted to help.

“It is a significant number of children. When schools had to close last spring and transition to remote learning due to COVID-19, that divide became a challenging hurdle for schools and families to overcome,” Solberg said. “The Close the Divide campaign is an opportunity for our community to help our schools provide every child with the tools they need to learn.”

IBE is calling on all businesses to see if they have spare computers that can be provided to students who do not have devices at home. It also is seeking donations from individual Idahoans who have a spare computer at home.

Another way to help is by going to the Idaho Community Foundation website www.idahocf.org/funds/internetdonate to the Internet for Students Emergency Fund.

In North Central Idaho, contact Lori McCann in Lewiston at lmccann@wvmccann.com or Solberg in Grangeville, asolberg@mtida.net.

For information on distribution, repairs and additional details, e-mail Leslie Barbour at lbarbour@idahobe.org.

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