by Spencer Duncan, Digital Equity Vista at the Office of Innovation and Technology
Helping Philadelphians get access to devices is a key goal in Philadelphia’s Digital Equity Plan.
Experts say that “insufficient access to large-screen devices—desktops, laptops, or tablets—can have negative consequences for people of all ages.” Research shows that 19% of Philadelphia households still do not have any working computer, which is critical to fully participate in today’s society.
This post lays out resources for residents to get free or low-cost devices.
Need a computer?
1. Call a Digital Navigator
Digital Navigators are digital support staff who provide remote or in-person one-to-one dedicated support to households around accessing and using technology. Philadelphia’s Digital Navigators work closely with the City’s PHLDonateTech initiative. This initiative calls on residents and businesses to donate, recycle, and provide computers to families and people in need across Philadelphia. If you are a resident who does not have a computer and cannot afford one, calling a Digital Navigator is your best first step.
Digital Navigators can also help Philadelphians access free or affordable internet service. This blog post offers information about PHLConnectED and other affordable internet options. A Digital Navigator can help you sign up for these programs. Find contact information for Digital Navigators in this blog post.
2. Get a free or low-cost device through the Affordable Connectivity Program
This federal program offers a one-time benefit of up to $100 off a device from a participating internet service provider and up to a $30/month discount to your internet service. Visit acpbenefit.org to apply.
Not all Internet Service Providers are offering devices. You can use your ACP benefit for just a device or for both a device and internet service. However, if you want to use your benefit toward both, you must get your device and your internet through the same provider. Digital Navigators can help you sign up and get the benefit your household needs.
3. The School District of Philadelphia will loan a Chromebook to its K–12 students in need
If your child has not received a Chromebook, you can contact your school office. If your Chromebook is not working, you can contact the School District’s Parent and Family Technology Support Hotline at 215-400-4444. Find more information on the School District’s website about how to get help with your student’s Chromebook.
4. Get a free or low-cost computer through one of these national refurbishers
The below groups offer affordable devices for purchase or through a lottery. These groups also provide steep discounts for nonprofits to purchase devices in bulk for computer labs or to distribute to individuals.
- 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.
- They are a qualified provider for the ACP and can offer both a device and internet access though a mobile hotspot.
- human-I-T will also work with schools and nonprofits that need more than 50 computers to do large bulk shipments. To organize this, contact them at email@example.com.
- PCs for People provides qualifying individuals with low-cost devices, internet, tech support, and digital literacy training.
- Desktops are available starting at $75 and laptops at $100.
- They offer free shipping and a 1-year warranty included with a purchase.
- They are a qualified provider for the ACP and offer both a device and internet access through a mobile hotspot.
- Individuals can call or email a hotline for one-on-one support through the Digital Education Call Center at (651) 800-9097 or firstname.lastname@example.org where representatives can help you learn more about available classes, questions about how to use your computer or the internet, and more.
- Comp-u-dopt forms partnerships to bring in device donations, refurbish, then distribute them to families with children through a lottery system. Distribution of devices events occur across the country, including one that is ongoing in Philadelphia through a partnership with the Urban League.
- To qualify for a computer, you must not have access to a working computer at home, and you must have a child in K-12 education (up to age 20) in the Philadelphia area
- No one is ever asked to pay for services.
- Every distributed device comes with 2 years of free tech support and a 2-year warranty.
- Philadelphians can find more information, including on how to register for a lottery event here.
If you need help reaching one of these groups, contact a Digital Navigator.