Chattanooga State Student Technology Pantry is Open

August 24, 2021 | Betty A. Proctor | Internal Press Release

girl with laptop

Chattanooga State Community College welcomes students enrolled for the fall 2021 semester. Lesrners of all ages use technology within their courses and at home for assignments out of class. Students who do not own their own technology equipment may experience a fear of falling behind and quickly become discouraged; however, those students now have a new option thanks to the Student Technology Pantry.

“Before COVID-19, we were not fully aware of the deep technology divide that was present on our campus,” stated Dr. Rebecca Ashford, Chattanooga State president. “Now, we are keenly aware that many of our students do not have access to the technology resources that have become essential to learning.”

The Student Technology Pantry is where students facing the technological divide can borrow what they need to complete their classes, obtain the necessary credentials for area jobs, and graduate.

The pantry was stocked through funds raised by the Chattanooga State Foundation to include laptops, webcams, hotspots, calculators and other components used by students to successfully complete their coursework. To date, $57K has been raised by private donors to stock the tech pantry.

“We could see there was a real need at Chattanooga State, as a recent student survey revealed more than 40% face technology difficulties,” said David Smith, Tucker Foundation president.  “Many point to the need for internet access, computers, and associated hardware. By supporting the Tech Pantry, we are pleased we can help learners to stay in school, complete their coursework, and move into fulfilling careers.”

Osborne Foundation Executive Director Barbara Marter added, “When one sees Census data that shows nearly 20% of households in the counties Chattanooga State serves do not have a computer and nearly 30% don’t have a broadband internet connection, we wanted to do all we could to narrow the technology divide, especially in the rural counties the College serves.”

According to Gardner Long, vice president of Technology, the bulk of the funds are used for laptops. “During the pandemic, we actually had to dismantle computer labs to meet the needs of our students,” recalled Mr. Long. A total of 535 laptops were loaned during both spring and fall 2020 semesters.

The tech pantry also benefitted from a partnership with the Public Education Foundation (PEF). PEF President, Dan Challener shared, “For the last three years, PEF has worked to support Chattanooga State students who are graduates of Brainerd, East Ridge, Hixson, Howard, Red Bank, and Tyner High Schools. Thus, we were delighted to invest some of our American Rescue Plan funds to provide Chattanooga State’s Tech Pantry with 135 new laptops. This collaboration will ensure that more students have the support they need to succeed in college!”

Currently enrolled students who need to request technology through the Technology Pantry are encouraged to fill out the Technology Needs Request Form.