Samira’s Story – United Way NCA Helps Bridge the Digital Divide

Oct 31, 2023

by Smita Sharma

Imagine being a student in today’s digital world with no access to a laptop or desktop computer to complete your homework assignments. Imagine having to do everything on your phone. While some of us would get immediately frustrated, there are some students who have no choice but to get through school every day with just the limited capabilities of a cell phone. Samira Harrington was one of these students.

Samira was a senior at H.D. Woodson High School in Washington D.C, a United Way NCA Community School, and recently graduated this past June. She juggles many responsibilities including a part-time job to help support her family, caring for her younger sibling, and doing chores around her house, all while being a full-time student. Despite her many obligations, Samira still managed to excel in her Advance Placement classes even though she completed most of her homework using just her cell phone. Because even with her part-time job, Samira was still unable to afford a laptop, making homework and other school related tasks extremely challenging.

As part of our continued engagement with high schools, United Way NCA partners with corporate volunteers at Ernst & Young (EY) to guide cohorts of thirty 11th and 12th grade students through a national group-mentoring curriculum called Pathways to College. Thanks to the support of organizations like EY and generous individual donors, Samira received a brand-new laptop for her application to the United Way Technology Award to help her continue her academic journey. Despite the technological barrier of not owning a laptop or computer, Samira graduated Valedictorian of her high school class while also taking dual enrollment courses at Bard College. Samira now attends college full-time and is grateful to have a laptop to ease her worries about how she will access and keep track of her assignments.

Samira is just one success story. As part of our efforts to bridge the digital divide, United Way NCA has awarded laptops to 69 low-income high school graduates in Prince George’s County public schools over the last two years.

Each day, your United Way works diligently to ensure that all community residents, especially the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population, have equitable access to and distribution of health, education, and economic opportunity resources. We’ve shared with you the daily challenges our ALICE neighbors face and the alarming statistics that paint a bleak picture for the nearly 1.3 million individuals that are part of the ALICE population..

In the National Capital Area, 48% of students enrolled in K-12 schools are economically disadvantaged which negatively impacts their overall attendance and graduation rates.

Samira, and many other students like her, benefit tremendously from your support and generosity.

We thank you for joining us on this incredible journey as we continue to work towards our goal of reducing the number of ALICE households in the National Capital Area by reducing disparities across the region. When none are ignored, all will thrive.™





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