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Florida Laptop Program Brings Tech to Disadvantaged Students

A technology program in Florida is putting laptops in the hands of needy students. The program, operated through the Foundation for Florida Virtual School, was relaunched in November and this month received an infusion to provide laptops to students who are unable to supply their own.

Florida Virtual School is a Web-based public high school that is free to students anywhere in the state. Students who reside in other locations can apply, but are required to pay tuition. The online school is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and offers more than 110 courses, including core subjects, electives, honors, world languages, and 15 AP courses. It has more than 1,400 staff members and approximately 122,000 students enrolled.

The Laptop for Learners program provides a laptop computer to needy students while they are taking courses at Florida Virtual School. It is funded by donations--Everest University Online gave $14,000 to the foundation March 22, which will provide laptop, headset, AC adaptor, information technology support, and shipping to 20 students.

"The Laptop for Learners program saved my grandsons' education when the Foundation for Florida Virtual School loaned us a laptop when ours crashed," said Cliff McRary, guardian of an FLVS student, in a prepared statement. "I have 22 years of experience in education and the traditional brick-and-mortar education does not even compare to the education they are receiving with FLVS. My grandsons have never had a problem getting special attention from their FLVS teachers, working with them until they understand the materials, attention he never got at his brick-and-mortar school. I am an advocate of FLVS, because of the wonderful educational experience we've had."

Laptop for Learners began in March 2009 and was relaunched in November 2011 to meet new requirements after the foundation received 501(c)3 nonprofit status.

For the program, teachers and counselors identify students in need and then apply on the student's behalf with the help of parents.

To qualify, students must:

Students who are accepted into the program will receive either a Lenovo Thinkpad R60 or R61, which is loaded with Windows 7 Enterprise software.

For more information, visit flvsfoundation.org.

About the Author

Tim Sohn is a 10-year veteran of the news business, having served in capacities from reporter to editor-in-chief of a variety of publications including Web sites, daily and weekly newspapers, consumer and trade magazines, and wire services. He can be reached at timothyjsohn@gmail.com and followed on Twitter @editortim.

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