Kansas City Fed Senior Community Development Advisor Steve Shepelwich stands next to employees from Oklahoma City's Goodwill organization holding laptop computers.

The Goodwill organization in the Oklahoma City area was one of the beneficiaries of laptop donations coordinated in June by Steven Shepelwich (left) of the Oklahoma City Branch.

When the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City launched the Employer Laptop Challenge in April 2020 as part of its initiative to narrow the digital divide, it became clear that this work would be vital following the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The campaign has generated national attention and resulted in the donation of more than 7,600 devices from a variety of businesses and organizations throughout the seven states of the Tenth District and beyond.

The Kansas City Fed’s Oklahoma City Branch wants to expand that capacity and recently coordinated the donation of 100 used laptops from the Bank. The computers were given to Oklahoma City nonprofits, including the Inasmuch Foundation and 501Tech, for refurbishment. Once refurbished, the computers will go to ReMerge, Sunbeam Family Services and Goodwill Industries of Central Oklahoma. Additional donated computers were provided to Crooked Oak High School in Oklahoma City.

“We are thrilled to see this program growing in the way that it is,” said Steven Shepelwich, senior community development advisor based in the Oklahoma City Branch. “Just one laptop can make a huge difference in the life of someone struggling with digital inclusion.”

The term digital divide refers to the challenges faced by those without access to broadband and web- connected devices. These challenges can range from children unable to connect to the internet to complete homework to adults who have reduced ability to apply for jobs online or take advantage of basic conveniences, such as online bill payment.