As many as 700 first-year, full-time, degree-seeking students at Central Piedmont Community College will receive laptop computers annually through a five-year, $875,000 grant from the Gambrell Foundation of Charlotte. Some 3,500 students will receive laptops during the grant period.
The Gambrell Foundation and Central Piedmont are partnering on this initiative to help address the technology divide that challenges lower-income students and often hinders their ability to complete their programs of study. The college and foundation believe making technology available to lower-income students will help them achieve greater academic success and ultimately greater economic mobility.
The Charlotte Mecklenburg Opportunity Task Force, in its 2017 "Leading on Opportunity" report, identified "access to technology" as a key to realizing economic mobility.
First-year students with the highest level of financial need--those qualifying for the maximum amount of federal Pell grants--will be eligible to receive a laptop through the Gambrell grant.
Dr. Kandi Deitemeyer, Central Piedmont president, explained that the program will be more than simply a student recruitment tool. "We think this innovative and generous grant will lead to greater academic success among our lower-income students," Deitemeyer said. "We think this segment of our student population will achieve increased retention and degree completion rates. More students earning degrees and moving into family sustaining careers or pursuing more education will have a positive impact on the Charlotte-Mecklenburg community.
"The college will track the progress of these students during the five-year grant period to measure and evaluate the effectiveness of the program. We thank the Gambrell Foundation yet again for being our partner in this timely economic mobility initiative," Deitemeyer said.
Central Piedmont administrators also hope the program will point to a means of reducing the college's overall technology costs. Getting technology into the hands of more students could reduce the need to construct and maintain expensive on-campus computer labs.
"No student can thrive in today's wired world without the basic necessity of a laptop, a bedrock tool for success and inclusion in the digital world," said Sally Gambrell Bridgford. "We are thrilled to partner once again with Central Piedmont to support educational opportunity for Charlotte's future leaders."
The laptop initiative will go into effect with the fall 2019 semester.
About the Gambrell Foundation
The Gambrell Foundation dedicates its resources, efforts and collaborative spirit to ending inequity in our society through strategic investments in smart, effective, and innovative change initiatives that drive results. We believe that everyone deserves a seat at the table and that better solutions and ideas are developed in partnership with the communities we serve. See https://gambrellfoundation.org/history/.