by Labonno Islam (Digital Engagement & Communications Specialist) and Juliet Fink Yates (Digital Inclusion Fellow), City of Philadelphia Office of Innovation and Technology
Increasing digital access is a key priority in Philadelphia. Various organizations and companies are offering helpful resources during the COVID-19 crisis—this blog post lays out some of these resources.
We are regularly updating the "Staying Connected During Covid-19" post with new information about getting internet access. Some of the new highlights include:
- Important updates to Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T internet connectivity options
- Publicly accessible Wi-Fi information
- Additional COVID-19 specific deals offered by mobile or internet carriers to help you stay connected during this time.
Looking to donate devices or help in other ways? Scroll to the bottom of this post to see how you can get in touch with us.
Need a computer?
The Philadelphia School District is rolling out a 1-to-1 laptop loaner initiative. Throughout April, every district child who needs a laptop at home to do their schoolwork will be able to get a Chromebook. Chromebooks will be distributed by each school. Parents or guardians will be contacted by the school or principal about how to safely get their device. You can find more information on the school district’s website about how to get internet connectivity.
Below are some other organizations that you can get computers and laptops from:
- Team Children is an IRS-approved Microsoft refurbisher with several hundred computers ready to distribute. It offers low-cost, high-quality, refurbished computers starting at $100 for desktops. All computers are loaded with Windows10 Pro and with over $500 worth of learning programs and links for kids including Khan Academy. To get a computer, call the office at 640-666-1795 to make an appointment. The Technology Center is in Audobon, PA and you can pick up your computer from this location for free. They will ship for an extra $35.
- human-I-T connects low-income individuals and nonprofits to technology, internet, and digital training.
- Qualified individuals can purchase low-cost computers. They have desktops as low as $55 and laptops for $85. They offer free shipping, 1 year of unlimited tech support, and a 1-year hardware warranty.
- human-I-T will also work with schools and nonprofits that need more than 50 computers to do large bulk shipments. Contact them at programs @ human-i-t.org.
- PCs for People will ship used computers for free and is providing a 20% discount to new customers. They have desktops starting at $75 and offer free shipping and a 1-year warranty.
- Comcast Internet Essentials customers can get laptops for $150.
Need Help Improving Your Digital Skills?
If you are a member of the Free Library of Philadelphia, you can access many digital resources for learning and exploring. If you are not a member of the Free Library, anyone who lives, works, pays taxes, or goes to school in the City of Philadelphia or is a Pennsylvania resident is eligible for a library card. Cards are free of charge. Eligible patrons ages 13 and above can apply online and get a card instantly. Get a Library Card today!
Here are two excellent free digital resources offered that can help improve your skills:
- GFC Learn Free has easy-to-follow tutorials on Microsoft Excel, Word, and Office, as well as Internet Basics, social media, and more. GCF LearnFree also offers free tutorials in math and reading.
- Lynda.com is a leading online learning platform that helps anyone learn business, software, technology and creative skills to achieve personal and professional goals. Library cardholders have access to the Lynda.com video library of engaging, top-quality courses taught by recognized industry experts
Northstar Digital Literacy is also providing their digital skills assessment and basic computer classes to anyone for free right now.
Online Resources for Job Seekers
While the CareerLink centers are closed, the CareerLink system is up and running. You can email info @ pacareerlinkphl.org or call 833-750-5627 to get help when applying for jobs. There are companies hiring right now. The website is updated three times a day. This helpful one-pager provides key info for job seekers.
Additionally, the City wants to know how the region’s workers have been impacted by COVID-19. Please take the Rapid Response Worker Survey.
Drexel’s Dornsife Center is offering career services support for anyone in Philadelphia looking for a new job. You can schedule a phone appointment for one-on-one help with resume writing, interview prep, or job search.
Other Online Resources
There are so many useful resources out there that help with digital and media literacy as we all stay home. Here are just a few useful digital equity tools:
Want to Help? Donations, Surveys, and More!
Contact Juliet Fink Yates at Juliet.fink-yates @ phila.gov if you:
- are a nonprofit organization that is able and willing to distribute computers to community members in need.
- are a Philadelphia company, university, or organization that has bulk computers to donate.
- have a digital inclusion resource that you want to share.
You can also fill out this form for the Cristina Foundation to donate your equipment to those who need it. You can put a note in the comments if you want the computers distributed within the Philadelphia community.
Here are some other ways that you can help:
- If you’re a worker in the Philadelphia region that has been impacted by COVID-19, please take this Rapid Response Worker Survey to help us learn how we can help in the best ways possible.
- Test Your Internet Speed and let the National Digital Inclusion Alliance learn more about your connectivity speed.
- Fill out your Census 2020 form. This year the census is available online for the first time. Philadelphia is relying on a complete and accurate census count so our communities get the federal funding needed to support our schools, healthcare, housing, and more. Completing the census takes 10 minutes and affects our city for the next 10 years. You can help others who are less comfortable filling out their census form online by sharing the below learning tools:
- GenerationsOnline has developed a simple tutorial to help if you aren’t sure how to fill out the census.
- PhillyCAM has created several video tutorials in multiple languages and geared toward different populations.
This post was originally published by the City of Philadelphia on phila.gov.