Montgomery County, Maryland is taking significant strides to bridge the digital divide by launching the Montgomery Connects program. As part of this initiative, the county will distribute 10,000 free laptops to eligible residents. The program is made possible through the FCC Emergency Connectivity Fund grant and Maryland Emergency Education Relief grants. To learn more about it you can visit our site here. The aim is to ensure that low-income individuals have access to essential digital resources, fostering digital equity and inclusion within the community. This article provides an overview of the Montgomery Connects program, its distribution events, eligibility criteria, and the impact it has already made.
Montgomery Connects: Advancing Digital Equity and Inclusion:
Montgomery Connects is a digital equity and inclusion program spearheaded by Montgomery County. Its primary objective is to eliminate disparities in digital access and empower all residents and businesses to actively participate in the digital world. The program recognizes that achieving digital equity requires addressing three core elements: access to a home computer, affordable high-speed internet, and digital literacy training. To tackle these challenges, Montgomery Connects operates under the County’s Department of Technology and Enterprise Business Solutions (TEBS).
Free Laptop Distribution Events:
Throughout the months of February, March, and April, Montgomery County will organize several distribution events where eligible residents can receive a free laptop. These events will be held at various locations within the county, and laptops will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. The inaugural distribution event is scheduled for February 13th, from 3-7 pm, at the cafeteria of the Executive Office Building in Rockville.
Positive Impact and Statistics:
As of February 13th, the Montgomery Connects program has already distributed an impressive 40,113 computers to predominantly low-income households. The distribution statistics highlight the program’s success in reaching those most in need:
– 84% of recipients have an annual household income of less than $50,000, and 35% have an annual income of less than $25,000.
– 77% of the computers have been distributed to Black and Latino residents, with 65% going to households earning less than $50,000 annually.
To be eligible for a free computer through the Montgomery Connects program, individuals must meet the following criteria:
- Residency: Applicants must be residents of Montgomery County, Maryland.
- Age: Participants must be seven years of age or older.
- Library Card: A valid Montgomery County Public Libraries library card number is required. Those without a library card can obtain one online through the provided link.
- One Computer per Person: Only one computer will be distributed per eligible individual.
- In-Person Appointment: All recipients, including children, must schedule an appointment and appear in person at the designated distribution events. A valid photo ID is required for verification purposes.
Supporting Non-Profit Organizations:
The Montgomery Connects program encourages non-profit organizations, agencies, and county departments serving Montgomery County to inform their eligible customers about the availability of these free laptops. These organizations are instrumental in assisting their clients in registering for distribution appointments through the provided registration links. For organizations in need of additional assistance, there is an option to contact Montgomery Connects via email for further support.
County Executive’s Vision:
Montgomery County Executive Marc Elrich emphasizes the significance of the Montgomery Connects program in fostering educational and employment opportunities. Elrich acknowledges the critical role that access to a computer and the internet plays in students’ academic success and workers’ career advancement. The county’s commitment to providing 40,000 computers thus far reflects the tangible progress being made in this crucial area. Executive Elrich urges eligible individuals to seize this opportunity, as only 10,000 laptops remain available.
The Montgomery Connects program in Montgomery County, Maryland serves as a beacon of hope for low-income residents seeking to overcome the digital divide. By distributing 10,000 free laptops, the program empowers individuals with essential tools for learning, work, and daily life. The positive impact of the program is evident in the thousands of computers already distributed, benefiting predominantly low-income households. Montgomery County’s commitment to digital equity and inclusion sets an example for communities striving to bridge the digital divide nationwide. By extending access to technology, affordable internet, and digital literacy training, Montgomery Connects paves the way for a more connected and equitable future for all.