Library partnership aims to bridge digital divide
Heights Libraries is partnering with the nonprofit PCs for People to distribute free or low-cost computers, laptops and hot spots to qualifying customers.
PCs for People is a national 501(c)3 organization that recycles business electronics and provides refurbished tech to low-income households at a reduced cost or at no cost, helping them access technology previously out of their reach.
In August, the HKIC computer lab at the Lee Road Branch became a pick-up location for PCs for People’s clients. This means people who live in the Heights and other nearby communities, who qualify for the program, can select the HKIC/Lee Road Branch as a location to pick up their equipment. Previously, clients had to travel outside the Heights to libraries in other Cuyahoga County cities, such as Cleveland or Parma.
PCs for People is an income-based assistance program, and eligibility requirements include income documentation for program qualification. Interested residents should visit pcsforpeople.com/eligibility/ to find out if they are eligible for a device. Preference is given to seniors, job seekers and families with school-age children that attend school in Cuyahoga County.
“A little more than 18 percent of Cleveland Heights residents live in poverty,” said Nia Turner, Heights Libraries technology trainer and staff member, who oversees the partnership with PCs for People. “Judging by the number of customers who come in regularly to use our computers to write résumés and apply for jobs online, people in our community need access to low-cost technology to keep up with the world around them.
"Access to low-cost computers, laptops and hot spots will allow them better access to the Internet so that they can work, attend school, write résumés, apply for jobs and access the ibrary’s digital collections and computer classes.”
To apply for equipment, visit pcsforpeople.com/ohio. From the event registration page, select "Cuyahoga County" and “Heights Library Distribution.”
“I’ve seen firsthand how the digital divide in our community has been widened by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Turner. “I’m grateful and excited for this partnership with PCs for People.”
For any issues regarding the device after pickup, contact PCs for People for assistance at 216-930-5741.
Sheryl Banks is the communications manager for the Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library System.