Teen volunteers helping woman with computer monitor

Wired Wednesdays: Teens Bridge the Digital Divide

Student volunteers deliver and set up free refurbished computers as part of City program

teens and resident on porch with new computer tower housing

Desire Clemons with Digital Connectors Program volunteers.

Desire Clemons stood on the front porch of her Washington Terrace home, eyes brimming with tears, as she watched members of Raleigh’s Digital Connectors say their goodbyes.

“Praise the lovely God that we have people out here who are thinking of others,” Clemons said. “I feel very lucky.”

Clemons is one of dozens of Raleigh residents who has received a much-needed refurbished computer — for free as part of the Wired Wednesday project. She understands how critical it is to bridge the digital divide, especially since her teenage daughter is doing schoolwork remotely.

“My daughter was struggling with an old laptop that just didn’t work,” Clemons said. “Then, this program popped up in my neighborhood. It has been a blessing.”

Wired Wednesday Project

The free refurbished computers, delivery and set up service is part of a project called “Wired Wednesdays.” It’s a joint effort between Citrix, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina, Kramden Institute and City of Raleigh’s Digital Inclusion Unit, which includes the Digital Connectors Program.

The City is currently working with the Washington Terrace community which is a DHIC community. "The residents who do not have a reliable and meaningful computer device in this neighborhood contact us to receive a computer," said Bradly Upchurch, director of the City of Raleigh's Digital Inclusion program. 

Digital Connectors Teen Volunteers

Every year, 15 students are chosen to participate in the Digital Connectors program. They learn valuable leadership lessons, and life and technology skills, with an emphasis on volunteer service in our community. The program has graduated 178 Digital Connectors; refurbished and distributed more than one thousand computers; and trained more than 3,600 residents in digital literacy since the program's inception in 2010. 

“While the program has always focused on bridging the digital divide in underserved communities, the pandemic has both shed a light on the issue and made the divide among vulnerable populations worse, “said Upchurch. “It is now more important than ever for young and energetic leaders such as our Digital Connectors to be involved in the real work that can help bridge a growing digital and economic divide.” 

Maya True Wasik,17, is one of the Digital Connectors who is helping put 100 laptops in Raleigh homes over the next few weeks. She says more than anything, the program gives her hope.

“It’s really inspiring to see a bunch of other students who are excited about changing the community. It’s been a very awesome experience to see people light up about getting a computer."

Digital Inclusion Program

View more information on the City’s Digital Inclusion Program