High School Students Refurbish Donated Computers for ConnectHomeUSA Louisville

An innovative program in Louisville, Kentucky has connected over 140 families living in public housing to free computers that high school students refurbished as part of their computer science curriculum. And the students have another 100 desktop and laptop computers ready for the Louisville Metro Housing Authority’s (LMHA) ConnectHomeUSA team to pick up for the next computer distribution day. That event will take place at Parkway Place - one of LMHA’s largest and least connected public housing sites.

“20% to 30% of our students who participate in the Computer Science Academy are immigrants from other countries and English is not their first language,” said Scott Horan, Director and Instructor at Fern Creek High School’s Computer Science Academy. “These kids are really driven to be computer science students and that’s what got us started. We recognized the talent we had and we needed to support these students by making sure they had a computer at home. We can’t expect students to get their school work done just in the classroom.”

As the Computer Science Academy grew from 30 to well over 300 students, it was quickly realized that some students were facing barriers created by the Digital Divide. “If you’re in our computer science program, we want to make sure you are on the other side of the Digital Divide,” Horan says.

The unique program urges citizens, businesses, and nonprofits to donate their used computers to the program so that students have the opportunity to build their computer science skills while also serving their community. The impact these computers have made on the lives of the families who have received them is immeasurable.

A mother at Parkway Place recently came to LMHA’s social work offices to ask for assistance in completing her first-grade son’s first Black History Month project. They did not have a computer or Internet service at home and were struggling to create a project with all the required information. With the assistance of social work staff, the mother and son used an office computer to conduct research, search for images and print graphics for the presentation board. By the time the boy finished his assignment, he was beaming from ear-to-ear and proudly presenting his project to everyone in the office.

 “It makes me kind of emotional thinking that teachers may believe kids without a computer or Internet at home aren’t putting forth as much effort as the other kids when the reality is they don’t have the same resources,” says Mika McClain, LMHA social worker and ConnectHomeUSA team member.

Each donated and refurbished desktop and laptop computer is helping to bridge the Digital Divide in Louisville, one family at a time. 

To learn more about Louisville’s Computer Donation and Refurbishing Program, please watch the following news segment by Louisville Metro TV: https://youtu.be/vx2YqDLSVfk

Amber Petty