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Computers and Community: Technological Repurposing for Underserved Communities

We are all familiar with traditional ways to give back to our community, including food drives, soup kitchens, or just generally volunteering money or time to help a local cause. As times are changing, and technology becomes an increasing presence in our lives, considering ways to include technology in our giving is necessary. Many underprivileged students and communities do not have access to technology, a heavily relied upon source of education, information, and socialization that is becoming increasingly relevant in schools and professional careers. Food, shelter, and basic life necessities come first, but including technology in things like community drives is increasingly important.

With this comes the phenomenon of the "digital divide." This concept summarizes the disparities between underprivileged and wealthier communities with access to technology, and the social, economic, and other implications on these communities as a result. A study conducted by Stanford students found that the divide is getting worse, with those having adequate access to technology becoming richer and those that don't becoming poorer. Check out the article for more information on the digital divide and its consequences.

The question remains as to what can be done to lessen the digital divide and provide technological resources to underprivileged communities. The answer is diverse in scope, and since this is a relatively newer issue, many are still trying to understand the full extent of its effect. But, there are many ways to help, and creativity is key! Computer and other technological drives are a great way to help out. Other ways may include increasing funding to local libraries specifically for computers, printers, and other technologies that are free for public use. Contacting your local elected officials for policies that alleviate these issues are a great idea as well. Other proposed ways to reduce this involve creating free internet access, and creating devices that are disability-friendly. There are many routes to go about this, and all are important in reducing this divide.

On Episode 23 of our "Let's Go To Space: BLUESKY Learning" podcast, we speak with Alpesh M. Patel, who has spent the last three decades helping organizations drive their business development and revenue growth with strategies that blend technology, marketing, management, and leadership. In Palm Beach County, FL, he has served on numerous boards and committees, and supported many nonprofits focusing on family literacy, entrepreneurship, leadership, and youth development. His insights on and experience with helping underserved communities gain technological access are incredibly valuable to anyone looking to make a difference in their community. Give this episode a listen to hear more from Alpesh and to learn how you can get involved. In addition to this episode, please consider subscribing to the podcast as we have many more episodes featuring amazing STEM professionals. If what we talk about interests you, give them a listen, like, and share!

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