Spectrum Donation Helps Portland Public Schools Technology Needs

Spectrum donated 25 new laptop computers to Portland Adult Education (PAE) and $2,500 to the Foundation for Portland Public Schools to kick off the academic year while addressing coronavirus related needs of the school district. Spectrum, a key Internet service provider in the state, has been working with the Maine Department of Education and others over the last several months to create solutions allowing students across Maine to access remote learning opportunities.

Students without computers or Internet service at home struggled to remain connected when schools switched to remote learning in the spring. The Portland Public Schools committed nearly half of its coronavirus relief funding from the state to ensure all Pre-K-12 students have a device and Internet access at home for the 2020-21 school year. This is not the case for adult learners in the district, who are not generally full-time students.

Portland’s elementary, middle and high schools opened with a hybrid remote model with Portland Adult Education continuing to teach classes remotely this fall. Many PAE students are economically disadvantaged and do not have computer access at home. These students were challenged during the spring to connect to learning English and necessary job skills through phones or mail. 

The laptops donated by Spectrum will allow the recipients full access to their on-line classes and teachers.

“We are using the laptops donated by Spectrum to provide opportunities for our Job Skills students,” said Anita St. Onge, Executive Director at PAE. “These are students who are working to improve their skills to get a job or advance their careers.”

One recipient of a new laptop is PAE student, Violette Zola, who immigrated to the United States from the Democratic Republic of Congo. With new immigration laws in effect, Violette is not eligible to apply for a work permit until next year.  In the interim, she has been applying herself as fully as possible to her studies, taking courses to improve her English and learn technology and job skills. “I would like to thank Spectrum so much for this donation,” Violette said. “COVID-19 has put us in a situation where we cannot come together to avoid contamination. The computer has helped me to follow my lessons at home without worry, especially the Microsoft office class. I am very happy to receive this computer which is new and easy to use. I want to become a CNA or a phlebotomist or a medical assistant when I get my work permit. I prefer to work in my field as I worked a long time with people with HIV for different International NGOs in my country.”

“Spectrum is proud to lend its support to Portland Adult Education and the Foundation for Portland Public Schools with the donation of twenty-five new laptops,” said Camille Joseph, GVP, State Government Affairs for Charter Communications. “We continue to support broadband education, training and technology with funding to nonprofit organizations that are interested in providing the necessary tools and training to helping students and communities excel in the digital age.”