To help close the digital divide and enable more students to participate in educational and workforce opportunities, RGV FOCUS led a project in 2021 in partnership with Dell to deliver hardware and software to households experiencing broadband connectivity issues across the Rio Grande Valley. More than 2,000 laptops were distributed to individuals lacking access to internet devices, including students, their family members, and district employees. 

RGV FOCUS worked with education, business, and community partners to remove barriers for students struggling to access virtual classrooms and academic materials during the COVID-19 pandemic. As virtual learning became a necessity for many students and families nationwide in 2020 and 2021, Rio Grande Valley schools experienced difficulties in delivering quality virtual instruction to many students.  

Valley Initiative for Development and Advancement (VIDA) Compliance and Program Services Manager, Irma Garcia, reflected on the pandemic’s impact on student learning outcomes saying, “The transition from in-person learning to virtual became a barrier to so many of our VIDA participants” said Garcia. “Our goal is to help our participants to overcome the overwhelming barriers they continually face so that they can successfully graduate with a credential in an in-demand occupation from one of our local institutions of higher education. To support this goal, the donation from Dell through RGV FOCUS helped close the gap which many of our participants were struggling to meet.” 

RGV FOCUS has also worked with partners to identify areas with ongoing gaps in internet service and technology resources and, as an initiative of Educate Texas, has shared learnings from the Dell laptop project with the statewide Digital Texas team to inform their work. With the Rio Grande Valley experiencing some of the greatest technological gaps in accessing virtual schooling in the state, this investment in the region advanced the critical work of increasing equity and accessibility in the Texas education system, a primary objective of Educate Texas.