Local, at-risk college students need laptop donations for virtual learning

A Central Florida non-profit is asking for laptop donations to help at-risk college students who cannot afford to buy one on their own.

ELEVATE Orlando is a non-profit organization that mentors at-risk students. Its president, Sherry Paramore, said some of their 100 college mentees were not able to start school this fall because most classes moved to online learning and the students could not afford to buy laptops.

“The need this year has been tremendous,” Paramore said. “This is the first time that we’ve had so many students not starting college because they didn’t have laptops and at ELEVATE we did not want that to happen.”

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ELEVATE Orlando is now asking for 20 old or refurbished laptops to give to students so they can start college in January.

“If they didn’t have a computer before they could go to the library. They could go to the computer lab but because of COVID they couldn’t do any of those things.”

Seminole State College Freshman Alia Trail said she panicked a little when her classes went virtual.

“It was really hard for me to find any type of computer or internet access for college,” Trail said. “Without a laptop or without some type of computer I would’ve missed deadlines and not of been able to attend any class.”

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The ELEVATE Orlando mentee said she reached out to her mentor and asked for a laptop. They were able to find and give her one for free. Trail said she is grateful she can now attend her classes.

“Every single day I’m online. I’m doing my work and I’m actually on a Zoom class.”

ELEVATE ORLANDO mentors more than 1,500 students from second grade through high school. The non-profit works with Jones High School, Evans High School and Oak Ridge High School, middle and elementary schools that feed into those high schools to create a lasting mentor relationships.

Anyone interested in donating a laptop can reach out to ELEVATE Orlando by visiting the non-profit’s website. ELEVATE Orlando said they are also always looking for mentors for its program.