UofL closing digital divide with free laptops


    LOUISVILLE, Ky. – The University of Louisville is giving out free computers to qualifying students as the ongoing global health emergency has resulted in a learning environment that leans heavily on online teaching.

    The “Keys to Success” program, part of the university’s Student Success Center, has started to distribute up to 700 Dell laptop computers to students who qualify.

    “I am unbelievably grateful for this program and the people making these laptops available to students like me. This is a game-changer for the semester,” said Hope Patrick, a junior music therapy major who is taking most of her fall courses entirely online. After losing her summer job due to COVID-19, she was unable to afford to upgrade her outdated, refurbished computer to meet the new technology demands.

    Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a need for social distancing, classes at UofL for the fall semester have either converted to entirely online or are a “hybrid,” a combination of online and in-person.

    “This the first time we’ve been able to anticipate technology needs,” said Provost Beth Boehm. “Spring’s swift pivot to remote learning made it clear that the digital gap is real, and so we wanted our students to have the technology necessary to do all the work in a hybrid or online environment.” 

    Freshmen and incoming/transfer students with the greatest financial need were the first to be offered an invitation to apply for a free Dell 3300 13-inch laptop equipped with webcam, microphone and speakers. The Student Success Center will expand invitations to continuing second- and third-year students in the next phase.

    For further information, contact Katie Adamchik, interim director of the Student Success Center, at katie.adamchik@louisville.edu.

    Janet Cappiello covers student success for the Office of Communications and Marketing. She has more than 30 years’ experience in journalism, including working for The Associated Press and magazines such as Vegetarian Times and Sustainability: The Journal of Record. She has been at UofL since 2014.