Need Legal Aid Help? Get Started

Pandemic lessons for addressing the digital divide

Posted September 2, 2022
12:15 pm

By Magda Phillips

The digital divide was brought to everyone’s attention at the height of the global pandemic. In late March of 2020, many industries went virtual, from healthcare to education. In low-income cities like Cleveland, the transition to online life was not as easy as it was in affluent suburbs. Inner city school districts needed to act fast to address this crucial deficiency. The absence of computers and internet access causes barriers to information.

Districts across the country have received funding and/or technology from nonprofits to distribute to students in order to support online learning. But the technology alone did not address the divide. Students and families still need internet access and need to know how to use devices and online platforms.

Some groups are working to expand internet access. For example, DigitalC is a non-profit focused on improving Greater Cleveland’s digital literacy and providing residents with an affordable, high-speed internet connection. Their mission is “to make our community’s digital future equitable.”

Another group, ConnectedNEO, is working to set up community-owned and managed broadband networks in Cleveland neighborhoods with low rates of connectivity.

Individuals can also access resources by reaching out to local nonprofits like PCs for People, who are working to supply families with high quality desktop or laptop computers for a low cost.

The Cleveland Public Library’s TechCentral offers a variety of computer and technology-related services available at the Main Library and all 27 branch locations. CPL also offers computer courses to the community.

This article was published in Legal Aid's newsletter, "The Alert" Volume 38, Issue 2, in Summer 2022. See full issue at this link: “The Alert” – Volume 38, Issue 2 – Legal Aid Society of Cleveland (  

Quick Exit