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Digital DividENDS Program Reaps Benefits

May 01, 2023

When Rhaili-Em Lowe becomes the first in her family to enroll in college this fall, she’ll pack a gift from the community-based program Digital DividENDS with her things.

Rhaili-Em was one of several first-generation college students to receive a refurbished computers through the program, a partnership between Hartford HealthCare, the City of Hartford and Our Piece of the Pie, a youth development organization.

“It will be making a big impact, and I’m happy to be taking it with me to Howard,” she says of the technology.

Digital DividENDS offers job training, internships and a potential career path for youth interested in learning how to refurbish computers, and then offers those computers to underserved Hartford residents.

The first round of donations was made during an April 19 visit to the Arroyo Recreation Center, where senior citizens and college students were presented laptops and desktop computers donated by Hartford HealthCare. The presentation was made by Hartford Mayor Luke Bronin, Hartford Hospital President Bimal Patel, and Our Piece of the Pie President and CEO Hector Rivera.

The 130 used computers were refurbished by Hartford Youth Service Corps members who received advanced computer hardware training from members of Hartford HealthCare’s IT Department.

Bronin thanked the system for its partnership in providing the computers and job training opportunities.

Hartford HealthCare and Hartford Hospital, Patel said, were proud to be a part of this partnership.

“The youth are gaining something for their future, but also giving back to their community. They are a part of making that happen,” he said.

Gabe Garcia, a member of Youth Service Corps, spoke about becoming involved.

“This program has opened a lot of doors for me, either getting a job or more training,” Garcia said. “This program is top tier.”

The innovative partnerships, Rivera says, helps Our Piece of the Pie better serve area young people with such risk factors as being under-credited and overaged, involved with child welfare or the justice system involved, or being low-income, unemployed or under-employed.

“Our youth are gaining certifications and a path to employment in the IT field, as well as developing a sense of pride on their impact on the community,” Rivera said.

Upon completing the program, Youth Service Corps members are eligible for internships in IT at HHC.

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