Computers and Textbooks

Essential for Successful College and College-bound Students

We fund textbooks and computers for low-income students as this is one of their greatest unmet needs. Many students complete their homework on cell phones, go to the library late at night to complete and print homework assignments, and have insufficient money for textbooks.

Most high school and college learning materials are now shared online and assessments are conducted electronically. While almost all high schools and colleges have libraries that lend textbooks and computer labs for student use, textbooks are often checked out and computer labs are often only open for limited hours. As a result, not being able to afford a computer or textbooks can become a major academic impediment for low-income students, especially those who work to support their schooling.

Appreciation from recipients

Books for a natural science student at UC Merced

photo of Molly


“Thank you for the wonderful gift of college books for my first year of school. As you know, I was barely able to afford gas to get here from Sacramento so did not have any extra money for books. I am excited to tell you that I received a B on my first math midterm and 100% on my chemistry midterm. I love college!”

(Molly is now a senior, majoring in the natural sciences. She became fluent in Spanish and spent one year studying at the University of Barcelona and traveling throughout Europe. When she boarded the airplane in San Francisco for Spain, it was her first time flying.)


Books for an accounting student at De Anza Community College

“I struggle to find a place to sleep at night and travel on my bike. I’m pursuing an AA in accounting with the goal of getting an entry level job in the field while continuing to pursue my education until I eventually reach my CPA and possibly a masters. I desire to use my knowledge to find and assist an organization, whether it be a corporation or non-profit. My job brings in income, but it’s only part time and the Bay area is very expensive. The funds for my college books from Access to Achievement help me use my income for other needs such as food, maintenance of my bike, and a gym membership so I have a place to study and shower.”

A computer for a doctoral student in epidemiology

Devynn and his two daughters

Devynn and his two daughters

“In every person’s life there is a proverbial fork in the road that each individual must take and take alone. This decision shapes your mind, body, and soul for the journey through adulthood. Along this journey we find different programs, organizations, and clubs to support us in our quest to reach our goals, dreams, and aspirations. In addition, we find mentors and role models in our respected field to guide us through this process. In my case, I found the Access to Achievement Education Foundation. Recently I was awarded a laptop computer for my doctoral graduate studies in epidemiology. This award has improved my ability to do well in graduate school and keep up with new technology trends for learning. Making the transition from Oakland, California to Texas for graduate school was very difficult financially. In addition, preparing for school was a challenging task as I have no parents or siblings who are still living. The support from Access to Achievement has taken a tremendous weight off my shoulders. If not for this, I would not have had a computer, which is essential for the successful completion of assignments for my classes. The ability to get work done without waiting hours for a computer at school has helped me reach my full potential as a student, researcher, and graduate instructor.”

A computer for a college-bound rural student

This student recently graduated from a remote high school in California. Her parents were arrested while they were working and sent back to Mexico, leaving her and her two younger siblings to live on their own. She wrote the following in her application for a computer: “I need a computer because it will help me out so much with my next steps in college. My first experience with college and not having a computer was awful. I took the bus to the public library, often alone and late at night, and waited several hours for an unoccupied computer. A computer will help me take my time on my assignments instead of rushing because someone else is waiting to use the computer. I will have the time to correct everything and look at every letter and make sure I have given my assignment my best effort.”

A computer for a Cal State Sacramento biology student

“ I do not own a computer and would like to apply for a laptop to assist me in my school work when I return to begin my second year of college. Last year I had to stay after classes to work at the computer lab, then take the bus late at night to the room I rented which is in a dangerous area of town. Many of my assignments must be obtained from a computer, including retrieving homework, taking quizzes, and acquiring research. If I owed a computer I could complete my assignments more efficiently and quickly. Most importantly, I could focus more on my school work and communicate more effectively with my professors.”

Computers for first generation college-bound AVID students at Los Altos High School

Los Altos High School first generation college-bound AVID students with their computers

Los Altos High School first generation college-bound AVID students with their computers

We upgraded six laptop computers for students at Los Altos High School who are in Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID). This is a global nonprofit organization that is dedicated to closing the achievement gap by preparing all students for college and other postsecondary opportunities. Today AVID impacts more than 800,000 students in 44 states and 16 other countries/territories. In several of our programs we fund, AVID students are near-peer mentors to high risk younger middle school students.

The Need

The need of these students is reflected from their essays (slightly edited for confidentiality):

“Last year, my parents made $27,900 so money is tight around our home. I work babysitting so I can help my family buy groceries. Any old clothing I don’t use, I sell online and give that money to my parents. I asked my parents if there was any way we could afford a computer but they’ve said no, they need to pay our rent and bills. Even though it is a challenge for me to do my school work on a cell phone, I would rather them pay bills than be selfish and have them buy me a computer.”

“Since we are very short on money we cannot afford to spend any extra money on expensive things like a computer. It breaks my heart to learn that my parents can barely pay our apartment rent, the electric bill, water bill, and food. Due to the struggles we face, I work very hard to make my parents happy. I successfully earned a GPA of 3.8 in my first quarter.”

“The computer I have currently is quite old and gives me a hard time when the page freezes and never responds or the mouse goes crazy and loses control. I cannot rely on my computer to get my work done because there are times when the apps on the computer do not want to work and the computer freezes without opening the screen that I requested. This makes it difficult to complete my homework especially when an essay or project is due the next day.”

“Having no computer stresses me. If the school library is closed, I ask a friend to lend me their computer for an hour or so. If they can’t lend me their computer, I usually come to school at 7 am and use the library’s computers which means leaving home at 6 am and rushing to school, so that I at least can use a computer there.”

“I am usually an A student but this semester my GPA was a 3.4. I’m not making any excuses but that GPA for me personally is unacceptable because I challenge myself daily to earn better grades, but the stress at home has gotten between my education and hasn’t allowed me to focus as much as I should be. If I had a computer I could be at home at night rather than the library and do my homework and help my family.”

“If I had a computer I would be able to go to class and use my computer whenever the teacher says “Please pull out your computer and work on this”. Whenever that happens, I just sit in my desk because I have no computer access.”

“My family makes around $19,000 a year. I work 3 days a week after school from 7:00 pm to 12:30 am in the morning. 65% of what I earn goes to helping my parents with bills and 35% goes for my college savings. A laptop would help me a lot and my family and my sisters would also benefit from this opportunity.”

“Having the computer would mean the world to me and I hope I am one of those people chosen. But if I am not chosen, I understand that others need it more.”