Jefferson County teaming up with Loyalty Foundation, DC BLOX and local partners to bridge digital divide

Screenshot of Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson speaking at the Wednesday afternoon news conference about partnerships to bridge the digital divide. Photo by Pat Byington, taken off Facebook Live

As schools in Jefferson County prepare for a minimum of nine weeks of online learning, Jefferson County is teaming up with the Loyalty Foundation and several local partners to bridge the digital divide experienced by students and families with online learning.

Jefferson County Commissioner Sheila Tyson announced the partnership with the Loyalty Foundation and local partners including DC BLOX at a Wednesday afternoon news conference. 

“These are unusual unprecedented times we are encountering. Students are already suffering from economic circumstances their families are facing and online learning is an additional hurdle for many. Being able to provide computers to those families in need is a true blessing and helps offset some of the strain on families. I am so thankful for all of our partners in this venture.”

At the announcement, 50 chromebooks were on display, half donated via the Loyalty Foundation’s Devices4All initiative and an additional 25 Chromebooks. Birmingham’s DC BLOX

Partnership with the Loyalty Foundation

Screenshot of Founder & Chairman David Neeman, the Loyalty Foundation. Photo from Facebook Live

According to the Founder & Chairman David Neeman, the Loyalty Foundation is a New York based nonprofit that was created to address the ever-widening gap between those who have necessary access to technology and educational resources and those who do not. The Covid-19 pandemic exposed a reality for many families, the absence of computers in the home, which meant lack of access to education for children in underfunded communities. 

In response to this disparity, the Loyalty Foundation developed the Devices4Allinitiative. In a nutshell, the group acquires and distributes computers to students in need through partnerships with organizations in the impacted communities. 

Originally focused on the New York Metro region, the pandemic and resulting educational crisis inspired the Loyalty Foundation to expand its work to communities across the country. Other US cities working with the organization include:

Flint, Michigan

Jenkins County, Kentucky

Newark, New Jersey

Orlando, Florida

Los Angeles, California 

At a news conference at the Jefferson County Commission, Newman recognized the “unwavering commitment” from the people of Jefferson County, DC BLOX, Commissioner Tyson and local partners. 

“We have been working hard to fill gaps around the country. What started in New York City has  become a national effort. After our conversation with DC BLOX, a Birmingham data center developer that is very active in its local community, we were connected with Commissioner Tyson,” Neeman says. “Upon learning of the deep need in Jefferson County, we reviewed our fund allocation plans and moved quickly to secure devices for the children there. DC BLOX generously stepped in with a matching program, allowing us to immediately double the number of computers we could deliver and the number of children we could help.” 

Birmingham Alabama
Thomas Jefferson statue in front of the Jefferson County Courthouse on the Linn Park side – photo by Pat Byington

DC BLOX CEO, Jeff Uphues added, “The Covid-19 pandemic has laid bare the inequities we strive to address. We look forward to working with The Loyalty Foundation to impact other communities where we have a presence.” 

More to Come

Along with the Loyalty Foundation announcement, Commissioner Tyson also outlined additional efforts she and the County are working on, including an initiative to have wifi available throughout the whole county. If this happens, it will be a huge breakthrough for students and families throughout Jefferson county.

Stay tuned for this big announcement next week.

  • Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.