The Greater Manchester Technology Fund
In April 2020, GMCA in partnership with Virgin Media Business launched Phase one of the GM Technology Fund; investing £150,000 in 567 kit bundles for disadvantaged and digitally excluded pupils working closely with schools and colleges to identify those most in need. A ‘digital kit bundle’ includes a laptop and the required tools to get online. A ‘digital kit bundle’ includes a laptop and the required tools to get online.
In response to the immediate closure of schools in England on the 5th January, The Mayor of Greater Manchester has launched phase two of the Greater Manchester Technology Fund to support disadvantaged and digitally excluded pupils to continue their education from home.
New analysis from the GMCA has found that less than half of young learners from across Greater Manchester in need of a device have so far been supported. The GMCA estimates that the national programme may support up to 80,000 remote learners in GM, but this will still leave 15,000-20,000 young people needing a device, including a large proportion of the 6,000 16-18-year-old college learners who we estimate are digitally excluded.
The Mayor of Greater Manchester is now calling on Greater Manchester's business community to make a commitment in line with The Young Person's Guarantee to support this initiative to help ensure young people have the tools to continue their education during this period of lockdown and schools can be supported to deliver learning during this time, ensuring no one is left behind.
How can you help?
Greater Manchester businesses are asked to support the fund to address digital and social exclusion in Greater Manchester and ensure young people across the city-region have equal access to learning and opportunity, regardless of background or situation.
Businesses are being asked to pledge to:
- Donate new devices particularly laptops, Chromebooks and iPads
- Donate sim cards, portable hotspots, dongles and other connectivity devices
- Make a financial donation to enable the purchase of digital kit bundles
A donation of £300 can purchase a complete digital kit and connectivity bundle including access to internet and laptop or tablet for a digitally-excluded young person in Greater Manchester and to enable them to continue their learning at home.
The GMCA is also partnering with Business in the Community to accept donations of technology devices and smart phones to be redistributed to young people through schools, colleges, and support workers.
Businesses and individuals can also support the fund by:
- Donating used working devices which will be repurposed by Business in the Community
- Volunteering time to become ‘learning coaches’ to train young people to use their new technology to access their lessons online
These donations will be distributed through schools/colleges, prioritising those students most in-need and helping us bridge the digital divide in Greater Manchester.
How can you access help?
Schools and colleges registration of need
The GMCA are working closely with local authorities and education providers (secondary schools and colleges initially) across Greater Manchester to assess need and ensure support is channelled exactly where it’s needed. Schools will then be responsible for distribution to those young people identified. A ‘digital kit bundle’ will include the required tools to get online.
To ensure the Greater Manchester Technology Fund can support those young people most in need across Greater Manchester, we are inviting local schools and colleges with pupils at risk of digital exclusion to get in touch to identify their needs and requirements.
Help with devices for young people not in education
The Prince’s Trust Development Awards small, fast-access grants to support those aged 16-30 to progress into Education, Training or Employment. The awards are available to cover course, fees, tools and technology equipment to help young people achieve their goals.
Spread the word
We have created The Greater Manchester Technology Fund communication toolkit (zip) to help you promote the fund.
The toolkit includes suggested social media content, the announcement press release, and digital assets available for your use.
Other support schemes
The Department for Education ‘Get Help with Technology’ scheme
Vodafone Schools.connected scheme
VOXI For Now- 5G data for UK Jobseekers