June 30, 2010; Source: Sacramento Bee | The so-called digital divide is narrowing a bit for several hundred students in Sacramento middle schools. A Chico, Calif. nonprofit has donated some 400 refurbished computers to students so researchers can study the educational benefits of having the machines in their homes.

This latest donation is just part of a service that Computers for Classrooms has been providing since 1991. Originally started in the home of founder, Patt Furr, the group now operates out of a 25,000-square foot warehouse. Computers for Classrooms collects used computers, often from state agencies, refurbishes, and donates them to families who can’t afford to purchase their own.

As part of the current study, researchers from University of California, Santa Cruz want to know the effects, if any, on grades, graduation rates, and development of computer skills. “Families are very excited because it brings a new engagement tool in their home,” said Zanae Scott, acting director of youth development at Sacramento City Unified. Regardless of what the study itself shows, as a result of participating in the program, students and their families will join the ranks of the “haves,” and no longer be among the “have nots.”—Bruce Trachtenberg