New after school program in Gainesville gives students access to computers

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Having access to computers outside of the classroom can have a big impact on a student’s success.

“Think about going into a home that every day you know that that accessibility was there, and you were able to continue your educational day based upon what you did with that teacher earlier that day - doing your homework, being able to get reinforcement for those areas you’re deficit in,” said Valerie Freeman, Director of Equity and Outreach for Alachua County Public Schools.

However, many families don’t have the financial means to afford a computer at home, which has caused a divide among students.

“If your accessibility and opportunity of those resources is not leveled and started during the same time with consistency, how will you ever be able to close that gap?” asked Freeman.

The Sky Bridge Educational Program at the Porters Community Center was started to give students access to the tools they need to succeed - with 20 Chrome Books available for them to use after school.

“I used to be able to just do my stuff at school and then come back the next day at school and do it. Now it’s like you’ve got to have a computer. It’s a necessity," said parent Erik Burton.

For parents, the program means their kids won’t be as limited when considering college and other possibilities for the future.

“Everything! They can do any and everything," said Burton. "The impossible is possible."

Although the Porters Community Center is the first location for the pilot program, the district hopes to expand it to reach even more students in the future.