The Chamber, through its affiliated Santa Maria Valley Community Foundation, partners with the Santa Barbara County Education Office, local businesses and organizations to provide computer packages to needy children/families enrolled in our local schools. Local schools identify students who do not have access to computers within their homes and who cannot afford to purchase equipment on their own. The program addresses the “digital divide” that can separate students who do not have technology in their home from those who can do their studies at home with their own computer.
Students, identified by their school district, are provided a laptop, software, and printer. The recipients often have siblings in the home who will also use the computer and students often teach their parents to do word processing and how to email, which in some cases may be important steps in helping them find new or better employment.
To date, more than 200 computers have been distributed since the program was launched in 2002. Computers are distributed to students identified by the Santa Maria Union High School District, Santa Maria Bonita Elementary District, Guadalupe School District, and the Orcutt Unified School District. Typically eight (8) students are selected (2 per district) in the fall of each school year, with an additional student from each district selected in the spring.