Communications Company, Charitable Organization Team to Provide Laptops

VISIONS students came out to the Craig F. Goess Student Center last month to pick up their new laptops, courtesy of Altice USA and the Kramden Institute. “The reactions we saw from students and parents as they picked up the laptops were overwhelming,” said PCC VISIONS High School Coordinator Katelynn Speas. “They were extremely grateful PCC, Altice USA and Kramden Institute thought so much of them and their academic pursuits."

WINTERVILLE—Altice USA and Durham’s Kramden Institute have partnered once again to provide laptops to Pitt Community College VISIONS students as part of an ongoing effort to help close the nation’s digital divide.

Every year since 2004, VISIONS has welcomed a new group of Pitt County high school students into the fold to offer them support and direction needed to receive diplomas and move into higher education. For the past three years, Suddenlink, a subsidiary of Altice USA, and Kramden have given those students their very own computers.

“At Suddenlink, we understand how important it is for students to have access to technology and high-speed broadband service,” said Suddenlink Regional Vice President Bob Lillie. “We’re thrilled to continue our partnership with Kramden Institute and Pitt Community College and provide laptops to students in need, as they work to complete their final year of high school and continue their post-secondary education.”

PCC VISIONS Director Rebecca Warren said she was grateful to Altice USA and Kramden “for seeing the potential in VISIONS students” and helping them enjoy the benefits of a more equitable learning experience.

“The partnership with Altice USA and Kramden has allowed many of our VISIONS students to experience a freedom they’ve never known before,” Warren said. “It’s given them the ability to have their own laptop at home for school work and participate in virtual seminars with our program, instead of having to find a public computer.”

PCC High School VISIONS Coordinator Katelynn Speas said many VISIONS students don’t have the means to purchase new laptops and were using equipment borrowed from their high schools, which must be returned at the end of the school year.

“The laptops provided by Altice USA and Kramden Institute are given to the students to keep for life, increasing their chances of academic success while bringing them one step closer to high school graduation and the transition to college,” she said.

Speas said the 42 laptops distributed to VISIONS students last month remove a technology barrier that has grown even more significant since the coronavirus began spreading across the country two years ago.

“Prior to COVID-19, students could turn in assignments in the classroom and use technology in their respective high school media centers,” she said. “That changed with the pandemic and many students have struggled with completing and turning in assignments from home through an online learning platform.”

Speas said VISIONS students can use their new laptops to access high-speed internet for $15 per month through Altice USA. She said it allows them to complete coursework virtually and participate in classes when they don’t meet in person.

“These laptops allow our students to have their own means of virtually attending seminars through Zoom and avoid having to navigate the process of sharing technology within their homes or using phones that can easily drop a Wi-Fi signal,” Speas said, adding that the computers donated last year made a meaningful impact on students preparing to graduate high school this spring.

The product of a partnership between the PCC Foundation, Pitt County Schools and the Eddie & Jo Allison Smith Family Foundation, VISIONS has helped more than 1,000 local students complete high school and move into higher education and/or the local workforce within the past 18 years.