Our June Celebration for Social Justice Advocacy

This month, we urge you to reflect on your commitment to social justice.

To our supportive community:

June is an important month for Bridging Tech because we are all at once celebrating Juneteenth and PRIDE month. This month, we would like to highlight the severity of the issue of homelessness for African American families and LGBTQ+ youth, as we reflect on our social responsibility to provide service to these communities. 

Today, 13% of the United States population is African American, yet over 50% of families experiencing homelessness identify as such. This staggering statistic is illustrative of systemic discrimination and inequity in the United States. It is also PRIDE month, in which our country celebrates the rights of the LGBTQ+ community and acknowledges the progress that has been made to protect LGBTQ+ folks. Still, LGBTQ+ youth account for 11-40% of homeless youth in the United States.

Bridging Tech has worked hard to bridge the digital divide for and with these communities. Our understanding of these issues highlights the philanthropic and nonprofit contributions that must be made to promote the safety, education, and rights for all. 

Thank you for your impactful support,

Margot Bellon

Co-Founder, The Bridging Tech Charitable Fund

Spotlight: Juneteenth

Juneteenth honors the de facto end to slavery in the United States. This month we chose to share and reflect on our nation’s second independence day and what is considered the longest-running African American holiday.

The Emancipation Proclamation declared all enslaved people in Confederate states legally free on January 1, 1863. However, as the Civil War continued on in the United States, those in Confederate territory were still trapped and would not be free until much later. This was because there was no significant presence of Union troops to ensure the end to slavery in those areas.

On June 19, 1865, thousands of Union troops finally arrived in the furthest west Confederate state of Texas and announced in Galveston Bay that the more than 250,000 enslaved people in the state were free under President Abraham Lincoln’s executive order. Celebrations broke out, and that December, the Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution was formally adopted to abolish slavery everywhere in the country.

This month, our Congress established Juneteenth as a national holiday. We motivate you to reflect back on the legacy of Juneteenth and the importance of speaking up for what is morally right.

Our Summer Campaign

As hinted at in our last update, we are bridging the digital divide for students affected by homelessness in Navajo Nation this summer. Ensuring high quality Internet connectivity and technology for students on tribal lands and in rural areas is even more difficult to accomplish. This is why we need the support of our community and your help to ensure an equitable education for all students.

Learn more about our campaign and give back by donating here.

What We’re Reading

Our Towns: How Libraries Are Tackling Digital Equity - The Atlantic

“These are the kids who haven’t grown up exposed to the internet, who have no access at home, who don’t have a parent who can teach them. For them, ‘the tech gap is getting worse, not better,’ he said.”

“After the most recent COVID-driven library closure, people were at the door at 9 a.m., waiting for the library to reopen… And people would go to the parking lot with laptops to use the Wi-Fi. The library, like others, answered in other ways, too. They have a NetSupport system, where library staff could work one-on-one with customers, screensharing remotely, to help them through their issues. The library system was really good about innovating different ways to help the community, says, Villanueva, but it was hard, and it took patience. Language issues made remote help particularly demanding.”

One of the data visualization maps from the article showcasing the highest income areas (in dark blue) near Columbus, along with the number of annual visitors to specific libraries (yellow circles), and the number of sessions per computer at each library (orange circles). Photo courtesy of Esri / HERE / Garmin / NGA / USGS / NPS.

Similar to Bridging Tech’s efforts, “Amy McLanahan brings the national topic of digital equity and libraries’ role in it right down to the human experience, ‘We level the playing field for people. We can’t make it equal, but we can make it so someone has what they need to become successful.’”  

Special Shout-Out: Greater Houston Builders Association and HomeAid Houston

A poster for the GHBA and HomeAid Houston technology donation drive for Bridging Tech. Photo courtesy of GHBA Sales and Marketing Council.

Our incredible friends at Greater Houston Builders Association Sales and Marketing Council and HomeAid Houston hosted a Houston-wide technology donation drive on behalf of Bridging Tech this month. Throughout June, they received an incredible amount of devices, including a few brand new ones, from their communities, and we are now able to send more refurbished devices to local Houston students affected by homelessness. Thank you, GHBA and HomeAid!

Volunteer Opportunity: We are seeking volunteers in the Houston area to help us package and ship these wonderful device donations to our refurbishing partner.

Get Involved

Do you want to join the cause?

If you believe in what we advocate for and want to join our cause, please click the link above to apply for a position on our team. We always appreciate more help at Bridging Tech, so we are recruiting volunteers who can dedicate at least 10 hours weekly for the next year to join our core teams, including those advocating for local policy changes and those reaching out to philanthropy teams at large organizations. If you or someone you know are interested in getting involved on a greater level, let’s work together to magnify our impact!

You can become a volunteer or donate.

Thank you for showing support by giving your time. We will reach out to you when there are opportunities to volunteer by hosting technology donation drives, mentoring our students, or helping out our regional teams in a city near you.

If you can, donate devices!

With the help of our refurbishing partner, all personal information will be wiped, and the devices will then be properly refurbished. After cleaning out your closets for extra devices, check to see if your company has cyclical hardware refreshes, and motivate your IT or Philanthropy teams to donate devices to Bridging Tech. Our initiatives promote environmental sustainability!

Finally, become a Digital Divide Ambassador.

Share this newsletter with ten of your friends, and tell us a bit about you and your community to become a Digital Divide Ambassador at Bridging Tech! Email us at newsletter@bridgingtech.org.