DAVIDSON – What started as a simple question has turned into a community initiative to help bridge the technology gap for area students who don’t have a computer or Internet at home.

Ten months ago, Bailey Middle School student Franny Millen posed the question to her parents: How do classmates who don’t have computers at home keep up with the many assignments that require a computer or the Internet to complete?

It didn’t take long for the family discussion to spread into the community and for action to be taken.

On Aug. 21, Lowe’s gave Millen’s nonprofit, E2D Eliminate the Digital Divide, 500 laptops to help students from Davidson Elementary School. The presentation was made at the Ada Jenkins Center, another partner in the initiative. The Town of Davidson and Davidson College are two other key players. 

“It’s so exciting that we started this family project, and it’s turned into this big thing,” Millen said. She just started eighth grade.

“My first reaction was that it’s probably way too big for anybody to do,” her dad, Pat, said.

But the Davidson community has the resources and kind citizens who want to help when given the opportunity, he said. Add Lowe’s and the Ada Jenkins Center and “it’s just a perfect recipe for a perfect solution.”

The way the program works is that families at Davidson Elementary applied for a computer through the Ada Jenkins Center, Pat Millen explained. Davidson College students will deliver computers and ongoing technical support for families. MI-Connection will supply the families with free Internet for a year and then provide it at a discounted rate. Participating families will pay $10 a month for a year, then the laptop becomes theirs to keep.

Bailey Middle School sixth-grader Aryana McCain was one of the first to receive a computer through the program.

“I’ve been excited to get this computer ever since my mom told me about it (about four weeks ago),” she said, hugging it tightly and grinning from ear to ear.

Entering middle school, McCain said she will take more classes and do more projects that require a computer and the Internet. Previously, Aryana would use the library or the Ada Jenkins Center to do her assignments.

“I’m glad that she’ll be able,” said her grandmother, Brenda, while fighting back tears, “to do her work at home.”

“And be able to turn my projects in on time,” Aryana said to help her grandma finish her thought.

Lowe’s, who has a strong relationship with the Ada Jenkins Center, is a community-minded company though it’s a large corporation, Lowe’s Director of Community Relations Joan Higginbotham said. The E2D project is one way it can be involved.

“I just think it’s a phenomenal program,” Higginbotham said. “It always works when you have the community, you have the corporations and different nonprofits come together. When we work collaboratively, there’s nothing we can’t do.” 

Want to know more?

For more details on E2D, visit www.E-2-D.org.