Many counties in the Bay Area do not receive proper funding, and students in those schools do not have access to high-quality resources to help them thrive and succeed in the classroom. It was when I talked to peers at my school that I first became aware of the magnitude of the problem of resource inequality. I previously knew it existed in the Bay Area, but I truly never internalized it until looking at the facts.
To put it into perspective, approximately 20% of children in the Bay Area live below the poverty line, which is higher than the national average. This consists of families earning less than $40,000, and families of four making between $50,550 and $84,250 are still considered very low-income. It may appear that the resource inequality gap only affects those in poverty, but it actually affects our entire community – crime and poverty are closely correlated, according to the San Francisco Standard.
I have had the opportunity to speak to a few nonprofits focused on providing educational resources to underprivileged schools and families. One local nonprofit, however, stood out to me among the crowd.
RRRcomputer.org has a goal of bridging the resource inequality gap across Bay Area schools by giving students electronics. It focuses on the electronic waste that gets created each year in the United States. Its main mission is to refurbish used and old computers and give them to underprivileged kids, generating more than 400 computers for those in need. This is an essential initiative, as access to technology is becoming increasingly necessary for educational and career advancement.
Hue Mach, founder of RRRcomputer, saw the enormous electronic waste produced by big corporations and decided that something needed to be done, starting his nonprofit to “combat Big Tech’s impact on the environment.” He described the magnitude of the problem, but he also mentioned how hard the problem was to solve. Electronics that RRRcomputer provides cost up to $1,000, and as a nonprofit, it is very difficult to get that kind of money. But through each refurbished computer he gives to a kid, Mach finds renewed motivation to keep going.
I have had the pleasure of meeting Hue in person and organizing a drive in March at Santa Rita School, where I found members of the community willing to help the cause. With help from Hue and members of our community, I was able to collect more than 20 computers, phones and tablets that will be refurbished and given to those in need.
Resource inequality continues to be a big problem in the Bay Area, even if it is not frequently depicted in the media. Based on what I have heard from nonprofits in the area, I believe that we can have an impact here. Interning at either one of these nonprofits is a great way to help bridge the gap, one computer at a time.
I am also planning to connect my school, Menlo School, with a few nonprofits that help reduce the digital access gap in our Bay Area community. Every resource that our community can provide, even if small, will slowly get rid of the resource inequality problem in the Bay Area.
Aarav Gupta is a junior at Menlo School.
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