Abhinav Bellapu, Zakaria Kortam, and Gaurish Agrawal have watched many of their friends struggle to access the internet. Dismayed at the digital divide in their own backyard, they have been striving to solve this problem, both at home and abroad. Together, they direct a nonprofit called ClosingTheDivide, focused on collecting used electronic devices, refurbishing them, and then donating them to low-income families and students. The organization harnesses a $17,500 grant to help communities connect to internet discounts through the Affordable Connectivity Program and host digital literacy programming.
“Technology empowers innovation, innovation empowers opportunity, and opportunity changes lives,” said Zakaria Kortam, COO of CTD.
Since CTD launched in 2021, the organization has donated more than 1,100 computers across 15 US states and 29 countries, and constructed 13 computer labs. All of this work was largely made possible through the hard work of more than 160 volunteers, as well as generous donors.
Every computer lab is constructed and equipped to offer direct access to tech tools and the internet. Google Chromebook laptops or desktop computers are provided, as well as digital literacy classes, such as Python or CPP.
“Closing The Divide Python classes have motivated me to learn more about programming,” said Adit Agarwal, one student participating in CTD’s courses. “I now understand the importance of knowledge about computers in today’s world. Their python boot camp classes were very effective in teaching me the basics of a high-level language. “
As CTD looks to the future, the organization aims to provide 10,000 devices to students globally and build more computer labs in more US states and countries around the world. With a robust staff and board supporting these efforts, CTD is positioned to provide underserved communities with the tools needed to build a brighter future.