Digital Literacy, Inclusion and Safety Council

DLISC promotes a digitally inclusive society, and safe and effective use of the internet by all Americans with the latest studies, guides and research about digital inclusion, advocacy and literacy.

Alexandria COVID-19 Internet Resources for Low-Income Families

Computers and internet service are more important than ever as educational and professional opportunities continue to migrate online. Despite that shift, a disproportionate number of low-income families in the Alexandria area aren’t able to access these vital digital resources, a disparity known as the digital divide. The following lists aim to connect Alexandria families in need with the affordable devices, internet, and services necessary for academic and professional achievement:

Discounted Distance Learning Devices in Alexandria

Whether it’s to tackle first-grade reading or college-level science, all students are better equipped to succeed at school when they can access a working computer. However, the cost of purchasing a new laptop can be overwhelming for low-income families, widening the gap between economically disadvantaged students and the opportunities created by digital technology. Although fees and waitlists may be associated with their programs, the following organizations attempt to bridge the divide by offering free or low-cost refurbished computers to families in Alexandria:

  • Alexandria City Public Schools (ACPS) — Every student in Alexandria deserves fair access to the benefits of public school, and ACPS works to meet that goal by providing a learning device to each enrolled K-12 student. Students in pre-K through first grade can take a tablet home, and students in grades two through 12 can borrow a Chromebook. Students can use these devices each day in the classroom and at home to complete assignments and develop digital literacy.
  • PCs for People — Financially eligible families in Alexandria can shop the PCs for People online store to purchase a low-cost laptop starting at $100. To qualify for PCs for People technology, individuals must demonstrate enrollment in a government assistance program or prove that their income is below the 200 percent poverty level.
  • Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA) — Students enrolled at any NOVA campus can check out a laptop for use during the semester. Students can use these computers for free but are responsible for paying for damaged machines and late-returns.

If you aren’t eligible for one of the low-cost computer programs above, you can try your luck at a computer store in the Alexandria area. You can find a works-like-new refurbished computer at one of the following technology vendors near Alexandria for a fraction of the cost of a new device:

Remote Learning Programs and Virtual Child Care Centers in Alexandria

When kids are home for a large part of the day, it can be hard for parents to keep them safely engaged and learning, especially when parents are juggling their own workloads. Moreover, families on a budget may struggle to find affordable child care, a challenge that puts additional pressure on already overburdened families. Thankfully, organizations in Virginia and Alexandria create high-quality online materials and programming designed to solve this problem for families in need. Check out the offerings provided by the following organizations for free and low-cost online educational activities:

  • Alexandria City Public Schools — Through the ACPS’s Digital Toolkit, students can access an assortment of apps designed to assist with organization and homework help. Each of the apps integrates with ACPS-distributed devices, providing students and parents with a consistent set of tools to use for their assignments.
  • Alexandria Library — Thanks to the abundant collection of virtual resources on the Alexandria Library website, your curious learners will never have a reason to be bored! Alexandria students of all ages who sign up for a free library card can access hundreds of e-books, a variety of homework help databases, and even virtual programming including storytimes, all at no cost.
  • Alexandria Tutoring Consortium (ATC) — Thanks to the volunteers working with the ATC, Alexandria students can access reading tutoring totally for free! The organization implements the Book Buddies method to teach reading, a technique developed at the University of Virginia to improve reading skills and reader engagement. The best news? The ATC provides this incredible service virtually, so your children can get the reading help they need from the comfort of home.
  • The Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington — No matter what neighborhood they live in or what their transportation situation is like, kids in Alexandria can enjoy educational, arts, health, and character activities offered through the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington! Children can tune in from home by accessing the Clubhouse @ Your House virtual program. The majority of the virtual programming is live, so participants will still get the sense of belonging and support they’ve come to expect from in-person programs.
  • The City of Alexandria — If keeping your kids at home isn’t an option but the cost of child care is beyond what you can afford, the city government of Alexandria offers a range of programs to help you get financial assistance. All programs are done in partnership with Virginia’s Common Help initiative. Families can determine their financial eligibility by visiting the Common Help website.

Free Wireless Internet Access in Alexandria

Subscribing to home internet service is a costly expense low-income households in Alexandria may not be able to cover. This financial barrier can explain why one in five Virginia K-12 and college-level students lack internet service, a computer, or both. Fortunately, Alexandria families can take advantage of the free Wi-Fi businesses and government programs make available around the city. Look through the following maps to find free internet in an Alexandria neighborhood near you:

The Alexandria Public Library and the Fairfax County Public Library systems make free internet available at all of their branches, including the following locations:

The digital divide unfairly holds low-income families in Alexandria back from the technology they need, but knowing where to access free Wi-Fi can help keep you connected no matter your income. Look through our Wi-Fi coverage map to learn more about the locations offering public, complimentary Wi-Fi near you: