New partnership could get San Diegans connected to the internet

Laptop computer keyboard
Posted at 4:06 PM, Jul 16, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-17 12:27:28-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Computers have become a lifeline to San Diegans during the pandemic and a new partnership between the city and non-profit San Diego Futures Foundation could make it easier for people in need to get connected.

Executive Director of San Diego Futures Foundation Gary Knight said the need skyrocketed the first three weeks of the shut down in March, "we distributed over half our annual inventory in that three weeks."

That's more than 1,500 computers. The non profit partners with companies like Qualcomm, General Atomics and San Diego County to take on their old computers, refurbish them and connect them with people in need.

City of San Diego Digital Strategy Manager Jen Lebron said 30,000 households don't have a computer, just within the city limits.

Right now that means limited connection to healthcare, education and job seeking material.

"San Diego Futures Foundation has an incredibly broad reach, that way we can get these computers in the hands of students, seniors, veterans, foster families and non profits that really need the help," Lebron said.

Michelle Sanudo recieved a computer from SDFF this month and said it's made her feel independent and successful. She's a single mom who relied on the library to entertain her four and one-year-old children while she worked.

"Really it was kind of like a sanctuary, I would get to do my paperwork for school, also apply for jobs," Sanudo said.

"When they closed the libraries that's when it hit me." She said the computer allows her to order groceries so she can keep her family safe during the pandemic and pursue her dream of becoming a medical assistant.

As the need for computers continues in San Diego and SDFF's inventory wanes, they need more donations. That's where the city is stepping in.

For the past year the city has been vetting the non profit. Wednesday the City Council Economic Development and Intergovernmental Relations Committee unanimously approved the partnership.

Now it must go before the full council to receive approval. The item is on the docket for Tuesday, the 21st.

"We are ready with nearly 2,300 computers that we can give to San Diego Futures Foundation." Lebron said these computers have been stockpiled, in hopes of being used to better the community.

If approved, the city would hand over the stockpile and have about 800 computers each following year to supply SDFF.

Those computers could be in the hands of people like Sanudo by mid-August.

"We're not going to see this disappearing, the need for this is going to stay at a very high rate for a while," Knight said as we head toward the school year.

If you would like to donate your computer to SDFF, please call and make an appointment to do a drive by drop off.

If you would like to see how you can get connected with a computer, please click here.