Digitunity and World Education Services (WES) Partner to Help Close the Digital Divide for Immigrants and Refugees

March 29, 2024

Immigrants and refugees face significant systemic barriers that limit their access to essential resources, notably affordable technology. In response to this critical challenge, World Education Services (WES), through the Mariam Assefa Fund and in partnership with Digitunity, initiated a pivotal program to help close digital disparities and support communities.

Digitunity and World Education Services (WES) Partner to Help Close the Digital Divide for Immigrants and Refugees

WES, a non-profit social enterprise with a nearly 50-year history, is dedicated to assisting international students, immigrants, and refugees in achieving their educational and career goals in the U.S. and Canada. The organization’s philanthropic arm, the Mariam Assefa Fund, focuses on advancing inclusive economies and communities through grantmaking, impact investing, and partnerships.

Recognizing the challenges immigrant and refugee communities face and the grassroots organizations serving them in obtaining affordable computers, WES collaborated with Digitunity, a national non-profit organization dedicated to making computer ownership possible for everyone. This partnership was forged during the Mariam Assefa Fund’s annual Fund Ambassadors program, where Ernest Wurzbach, a Fund Ambassador and WES’ Director of Technology Infrastructure, Operations, and Security, identified a stockpile of 877 useful devices and donated them to four non-profit organizations across the U.S. and Canada via Digitunity’s technology matching platform.

As a result of the collaboration between World Education Services (WES) and Digitunity, immigrants, refugees, and international students have been given meaningful access to digital technology. Ashley Taylor, Senior Associate of Partnerships & Strategic Initiatives at WES, commented on the initiative’s broader implications: “Providing access to reliable technology equipment for immigrants, refugees, and international students isn’t just about connectivity. By partnering with Digitunity, we seek to advance systems change and dismantle barriers that disproportionately impact underserved communities and prevent them from thriving.”

With this initiative, underserved groups were able to access technology, and electronic waste was managed sustainably. WES and Digitunity have demonstrated that technology donations can enhance digital equity and environmental stewardship by repurposing surplus technology. This is a powerful tool for social change.

With Digitunity’s support, WES’ donated technology was connected to recipients aligned with their organization’s objectives in a tailored manner. The WES and Digitunity partnership will continue flourishing as WES learns from other members of Digitunity’s national practitioner network and explores additional digital equity opportunities.

This experience has led WES to encourage other organizations to partner with Digitunity and donate excess technology. In doing so, they can help reduce carbon footprints, create opportunities for populations facing inequitable technology barriers, and learn about sustainable practices, the importance of technology ownership for the underserved, and the needs of the communities in which we work and live. This project illustrates how collaborative efforts can dismantle systemic barriers, one device at a time, for a more inclusive and equitable society.

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