The San Diego Unified School District announced Thursday it has received 900 new personal computers with built-in cellular connectivity as part of a grant from Qualcomm Technologies that supports the district's migration to distance-learning and aids its efforts to close the connectivity gap.
As the COVID-19 crisis forced the closure of school facilities, a move to distance-learning placed an emphasis on digital equity, according to a district statement. The district's Integrated Technology division distributed more than 50,000 district-funded devices to students throughout the district.
"The "connectivity divide" among our district's students was made especially clear as our community turned to distance learning, and I am proud of how our employees saw a need and took action to use technology invented within the city," said Susie Armstrong, senior vice president of engineering for Qualcomm. "Snapdragon-powered Always Connected PCs are the ideal device for students and teachers, enabling them to connect and learn from anywhere by taking the classroom with them."
Qualcomm arranged for the manufacturing of these devices specifically for this donation.
The cellular-connected computers will soon become available for students still in need of computers. The "Always Connected PC" is a Windows laptop with cellular connectivity built in to the device so users can remain connected without Wi-Fi, much like a smartphone. The donated devices, powered by Qualcomm's Snapdragon microchip set, will enable students to access the internet independent of their access to Wi-Fi.
"Qualcomm is known for cutting-edge technology that has connected the world, but the company also embodies the compassionate spirit of San Diego by continually giving back to the community," said San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer. "Thanks to this generous donation, local students will be able to continue learning, growing and preparing for the challenges of tomorrow."
Also part of the grant, Qualcomm is donating $141,000 to cover cellular connectivity costs for the 900 devices, ensuring students and families have access to learning materials through the summer. As the summer begins, students can participate in SDUSD Stories/Expanding Horizons, a new summer initiative to inspire, provide a platform to share student voices and to keep the school community engaged.
"We are deeply committed to closing the connectivity gap," said San Diego Unified School District Superintendent Cindy Marten. "While we continue advocating for additional state and federal support, Qualcomm has stepped up and shown why San Diego really is America's finest city. This partnership goes a long way at supporting our students and teachers.
The grant will be officially presented to the board of education later this summer. Once approved, the district will develop a plan to distribute the Always Connected PCs.