This past year has shined a light on the disparities in digital connectivity, especially for students in communities like Yonkers, many of whom lack access to devices and reliable internet access from home.
As part of a collaborative effort, a group of Yonkers high school students spent their summer conducting in-depth research and making recommendations to address the digital inequities they and their families faced in an even more challenging way during this time.
Earlier this year, Yonkers was selected as one of many communities across the country to address this stark divide. Led by the Westchester County Association and in partnership with the City of Yonkers, STEM Alliance, Fordham University, Westhab, and Yonkers Partners in Education (YPIE), the Y-Zone was created as a pilot program to improve digital connectivity to the community of downtown Yonkers.
YPIE partners with high school students in Yonkers to ensure they are prepared to succeed in college and make positive change in their communities. During this summer, a group of talented, passionate students was selected to participate in this Y-Zone project to research the digital gaps in downtown Yonkers and make recommendations for Yonkers and similar communities on a national scale.
“YPIE is proud to be part of the Y-Zone initiative and to have our YPIE students involved in the research of digital gaps in the downtown Yonkers community,” said Sam Wallis, YPIE Executive Director. “Being part of this initiative will provide a hands-on opportunity for students to learn about a challenge in their community and to be a part of the solution.”
These YPIE Summer Scholars focused on three areas of importance: education, health, and employment. With the guidance of many partners, including graduate students from Fordham University, they spent several weeks involved in research, data collection, and analysis of how the digital divide impacts their community. They designed their own surveys, conducted in-person interviews in the community, and presented their findings to a large group of students, partners, and community members.
“This is very impressive...the type of work you would expect a professional organization to do. Your work is going to have a real-world impact, not only with respect to helping people in Westchester County but because this is part of a national pilot, some of the results will be used at the national level as well.” --Michael Romita, President & CEO, Westchester County Association
YPIE Scholars look forward to being part of the continued rollout of the Y-Zone this fall, including assisting at distribution events at the Riverfront Library and expanding their research to determine how their findings can enact meaningful change on a local and national scale.