NEW ORLEANS (press release)  – In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Urban League of Louisiana, in partnership with Verizon, is pleased to announce the Verizon Technology Loaner Program, a new initiative geared towards Urban League of Louisiana program participants in the Greater New Orleans Area. The program will provide much-needed technology support for distance learning and those who face unemployment due to the coronavirus to support their search for a job. The pilot phase of this program will begin in May with an official program launch slated for early June.

“We are grateful to Verizon for providing Urban League students, families and participants with the technology they need to respond to COVID-19,” said Judy Reese Morse, President and CEO. “ We know all too well about the digital equity access and technology issues that existed before the pandemic, and those issues have been magnified. This program will help to close the gap.”

The Verizon Technology Loaner Program will provide laptops, hotspots and additional digital tools to current Urban League participants in programs such as Project Ready, Head Start and Workforce Development. In addition to facilitating continued engagement with the Urban League’s programs, it will support students in being able to complete their school work via distance learning as well as the unemployed in filing for unemployment, searching for job opportunities or participating in workforce development training.

“During such a troubling time for many, we are proud to support our community by providing devices, connectivity and resources,” said Louisiana Government Affairs Director Tandra LeMay. “Communicating with one another is so imperative now more than ever. Verizon is committed to keeping communities connected during this time of crisis.”

According to the Data Center’s most recent report on the impacts of disparities and COVID-19, 22% of New Orleanians do not have access to the internet and an additional 17% only have access via cellular data. In a 2019 national study conducted by the Pew Research Center, only 58% of African Americans report owning a desktop or laptop computer.

“We are thankful to be able to continue our programming in innovative ways and offer critical technology tools and resources allowing our program participants to remain engaged,” said Cathy Washington, Executive Vice President of the Urban League of Louisiana.