How companies are working to help low-income students get technology

Elementary school-aged kids using computers in class (KATU News photo).png

Technology has become such a large part of our lives, that even elementary school students are assigned homework that requires internet use.

But millions of people across the country don't have access to it at home, so they end up in long lines at the library or hanging around restaurants or parking lots late at night to catch a free signal.

"I would say it's as critical as the blood that flows through your veins," Cody Hamblin with CenturyLink said. "Parents can come talk to us about discounted rates, about special programs specifically for them to get their kids connected to the internet so they can enjoy the same benefits as everyone else."

And if you're missing key technology like a laptop or computer, Free Geek can help.

The Portland non-profit gives anyone a free computer in exchange for volunteer work.

"We had an intern at the front desk, our reception area, who worked with us all summer and shared with me she had been writing her high school papers on her smartphone," Colleen Dixon with Free Geek said.

Their Hardware Grants program has also put thousands of computers in community centers and schools, so students won't have to get to that point of desperation.

"She was just thrilled with this idea of having a full keyboard, and the ability to see all at once and work on it and that's the reality for a lot of people," Dixon said.

Free Geek also has a thrift store where anyone can get a refurbished computer for $100. It even comes with tech support and a warranty. If you have a student ID, you can get an additional 20 percent off through the end of September.

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