KS digital equity partnership helps 'ohana stay connected

May. 12, 2021

Contributed by Nadine Lagaso

Tears of joy and bright smiles are a rewarding part of a new partnership aimed at helping to bridge the digital divide for underserved ʻohana in Hawaiʻi.

The Kamehameha Schools Maui, Moloka‘i, & Lānaʻi Community Strategies Team is collaborating with the Kuauli Digital Opportunities Initiative to supply refurbished computers at no cost to families who have been struggling to connect with vital services during the pandemic.

KS reached out to its partners that serve the Native Hawaiian community to help identify keiki, ʻohana and kūpuna who need a computer. Sixty-five devices have been given out so far during distribution events on Maui and Molokaʻi.

“Our kūpuna needed it, too, because many of them couldn’t access their telehealth appointments without having a computer,” said Venus Rosete-Medeiros KSK’81, nā moku lead for KS’ Maui, Molokaʻi & Lānaʻi Community Strategies Team. “The reaction that we got from our kūpuna who did get it was just that they were so happy that they could access telehealth. Those kūpuna who are raising their grandchildren were able to keep their keiki busy on educational programs through the computer, and that’s exactly what we’re hoping for.”

With the support of generous funders, the Kuauli Digital Opportunities Initiative purchases the refurbished devices from Hawaiian Hope, an O‘ahu-based nonprofit organization.

“We wanted to make sure we got that resource out to families. They’ve been very appreciative, very supportive,” said Brad Bennett KSK’87, network coordinator for the Kuauli Digital Opportunities Initiative. “There are a lot of tears on both sides – both us as distributors and those on the receiving end. It’s just very gratifying to be able to serve our community and help out during difficult times like this.”

Plans are in the works for future distribution events in Maui County.

“There’s still a huge need. We’re trying to provide as many devices as we can, but there are many groups that we’re not reaching,” said Bennett.

Rosete-Medeiros said that it’s important for KS to partner with different community organizations to share resources and support families in need.

“We really have to join hands and work collaboratively,” she said. “It’s really a kākou thing.”