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Nonprofit starts Chromebook donation drive to help at-risk youth

Last August, before Wake County schools began virtual learning, many students missed out on laptop distribution. The school system was ready to supply loaner devices for every student who signed up.

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By
Lena Tillett, anchor/reporter,
and
Rick Armstrong, photojournalist

Last August, before Wake County schools began virtual learning, many students missed out on laptop distribution. The school system was ready to supply loaner devices for every student who signed up.

Two months earlier in June, Josh Haymond began his non-profit called Alley Oop Hoops to help at-risk youth, ages 12 to 18. Many of them, it turns out, were among those who did not get a Chromebook device through the WCPSS distribution.

Haymond’s vision for his organization is to use after-school basketball to attract youth and provide mentoring through workshops. "We’ll have a computer lab. We will have various worships surrounding STEM education, entrepreneurship, career readiness," said Haymond.

He is a partner in the recruiting firm VACO. His basketball background includes playing on the Millbrook High School team several years ago.

As the pandemic restricted Alley Oop Hoops activities, he put his focus on helping the youth he served by equipping them with their own Chromebook devices.

"You’re talking about a lot of students who are already maybe at risk of falling behind or have fallen behind," said Haymond.

He discovered that many students may have a cell phone rather than a laptop to help them keep up with remote learning. Meanwhile, he said, "(they are) falling further behind in their first quarter grades."

"It ties into the idea that you have to have access to be able to get to success," added Haymond.

Haymond connected with about 200 companies in the area for help obtaining used and refurbished laptop devices. So far, he says, "We’ve distributed 126 Chromebooks in the community."

Red Hat and his own company VACO both donated $5,000 grants that will supply 90 more Chromebooks.

Alley Oop Hoops is working to raise $10,000 to purchase even more devices.

On Haymond’s website, a high school counselor shared a testimonial about a 10th grader "who had previously been accessing classes on her phone and trying to complete all of her assignments the one day a week she was able to get to her aunt’s computer."

Haymond says that student and now many others have refurbished laptops that are owned, not loaned. He said, "I’ve got a student who next year, she will be the first person in her family that goes to college, and she gets to bring that with her to college."

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