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

“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 PhD student in biomedical sciences at the University of Alabama after graduating from U.C. Merced in the natural sciences. While an undergraduate, 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 on an airplane.)

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.” (This student graduated from De Anza and is now employed in an accounting job.)

A computer for a graduate 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 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. 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.” (This student has completed a master’s degree and is now teaches health-related and diversity/inclusion courses in an Oakland, CA high school).

A computer for a college-bound rural student

This student recently graduated from a rural Northern California high school. She is attending college in Los Angeles. While in high school, her undocumented parents were arrested while 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 attending college. My first experience with college in L.A. and not having a computer was awful. I would take the bus to the public library, often alone and late at night, and wait several hours for an unoccupied computer. A computer will help me take my time to complete my assignments instead of rushing because someone else is waiting to use the public 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.” (This student has graduate from her 2-year community college and is working before transferring to a State University.)

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.” (This student graduated from Cal State Sacramento and became a high school science teach in the Central Valley.)

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 donated laptop computers for students at Los Altos High School who were 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 different students who have been funded is reflected in their essays below (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 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 at 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 a 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.”