By Clayton A. Banks, Silicon Harlem CEO
The COVID-19 pandemic has shined a light on the importance of technology and exposed the lack of technology in Harlem households. Forty percent of households in Upper Manhattan are not internet-connected and many don’t have an actual laptop or tower computer. It is neither efficient nor practical to only have a mobile phone. In 2020, all households should have a computer and a robust internet connection, not only for entertainment purposes, but because digital literacy is critical for people to participate in the digital economy, continue their education, and manage their health.
The Greater Harlem Chamber of Commerce (GHCC) in collaboration with Silicon Harlem has created an initiative to address these inequities. Through our Support Harlem Now! GoFundMe campaign, we have attracted over $150,000 in resources. Especially during this pandemic, online resources are an essential part of life, so a large percentage of those resources has already been allocated to provide computers, hotspots, and digital literacy to the most vulnerable people that need to be connected in order to meet basic needs.
To date, GHCC and Silicon Harlem have positively impacted more than 50 households and are equipped to service over 150 additional locations. We’ve also distributed devices to people in need such as families with school age students, senior citizens in public housing, teachers, language challenged families, and others.
Seeing how COVID-19 has impacted the world, we are preparing our community for future instances where they might have to stay home, and we’re giving them the ability to remain connected, productive, and positive. This is not a fleeting effort. The Chamber and Silicon Harlem have been actively providing digital literacy to our community for over five years and are committed to raising digital literacy everywhere, but especially here at home.
The heart and soul of Harlem resonates across the world as does New York City. We must continue to embrace and support the creativity, courage, and pure grit of our community to ensure
everyone is connected.
Please support our efforts to bridge the Harlem digital divide by visiting www.greaterharlemchamber.com and contributing whatever you can to our GoFundMe campaign. For information or recommendations call 212 862-7200 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.