Giving Compass' Take:

• A project in Israel will utilize sharing economy methodologies to curb the digital divide by leveraging community resources to address the lack of school computers. 

• How can donors play a role in a sharing economy? 

• Learn more about the challenges of COVID-19 and the digital divide. 

Even before COVID-19 changed our lives, many under-resourced populations experienced difficulties in obtaining, or even accessing, computers that would allow them to better communicate, learn, advance and earn a living. Nowadays, when millions are home-bound or constrained, and must communicate, work and learn using digital means, the existence of a digital divide is even more substantial, impairing the most basic needs — from education and healthcare to employment and communication.

As it is, companies and employees are being forced to embrace remote working arrangements facilitated by various video conferencing tools, while similar solutions help everyone else (especially the elderly who are at high risk for infection) to utilize digital technology to communicate with family members and friends, and basically stay in touch with the outside world.

But while many find it extremely hard to cope without access to information and communication technology, the digital divide has especially far-reaching consequences when it comes to education. For children from low-income families, inadequate access to technology and lack of computers halts their ability to study, and isolates them from their schools and fellow pupils. This is no longer an option now that school closures have moved classes online and quarantine restrictions have intensified the need for computers.

With the help of sharing-economy methodologies, a project in Israel is set to reduce this digital divide. Starting with a pilot at three schools, a plan is being set so that communities throughout the country may help themselves without requiring substantial funds to buy new computers. The three schools are situated in Jerusalem, Jaffa, and the Bedouin town of Kuseife in the Southern District of Israel. They encompass hundreds of children, many of them without computers or digital access.

Read the full article about ending the digital divide by Yair Friedman at Shareable.