Bridging the Digital Divide: Montgomery County Reintroduces Free Computer Program for Low-Income Residents

Montgomery County’s digital equity and inclusion program, “Montgomery Connects,” has launched a new initiative aimed at providing 60,000 free laptop computers to low-income families.

Each resident is limited to receiving one computer. To be eligible for this program, recipients must be Maryland residents, are not required to be U.S. citizens, and should not have previously obtained a computer from the County before April 2023.

Residents are required to schedule an appointment online, confirm that they lack access to a computer, and personally collect the computer.

This effort is made possible by a $22.7 million Federal Emergency Connectivity Fund grant awarded to Montgomery Connects for the distribution of 60,000 Chromebook laptops to individuals without access to a computer. The program is managed by the county’s Department of Technology & Enterprise Business Solutions (TEBS).

“Access to a computer is essential for every person,” said County Executive Marc Elrich in a press release. “While children may have access to computers through schools, it is equally vital for parents, college students, working individuals, and seniors to have their own computers. It is our responsibility to ensure that everyone in our community has equal opportunities for success in today’s digital age.”

“I’ve seen from my experience developing digital connector programs that it is a game changer for young people to have their own digital opportunities,” said TEBS Director and County Chief Information Officer Gail M. Roper.

“We encourage nonprofit organizations and neighbors to pass the word along and to help elderly residents sign up. This may be the last large computer grant the County will receive, so we want everyone who doesn’t have a computer to make an appointment to get one while supplies last,” said Montgomery Connects Program Director Mitsuko R. Herrera. “We are also working to connect residents who receive computers with free technology training resources available from the Montgomery County Public Libraries and SeniorPlanet.org.”

Every individual, including children aged 7 and above, must schedule an appointment to obtain a computer. Upon securing an appointment, eligible residents are required to bring the following items to their pickup appointment:

  1. Photo identification.
  2. Proof of address. If a person is using a Photo ID without an address (such as a passport), they must bring a piece of mail or online bill showing their address.

All individuals receiving a computer, including children, must be present in person. Appointments are available until 7 p.m. and on many Saturdays. The program will give priority to Montgomery County residents.

Upcoming computer distribution events schedule:

  • Thursday, Feb. 1. 1-5 p.m. Aspen Hill Library, 4407 Aspen Hill Rd, Rockville
  • Friday, Feb. 2. 1-5 p.m. Germantown Recreation Center, 18905 Kingsview Rd, Germantown
  • Saturday, Feb. 3. Noon-4 p.m. East County Recreation Center, 3310 Gateshead Manor Way, Silver Spring
  • Wednesday, Feb. 7. 3-7 p.m. Mid-County Recreation Center, 2004 Queensguard Rd, Silver Spring
  • Thursday, Feb. 8. 3-7 p.m. Gaithersburg Library, 18330 Montgomery Village Ave, Gaithersburg
  • Friday, Feb. 9. 3-7 p.m. Long Branch Recreation Center, 8700 Piney Branch Rd, Silver Spring
  • Wednesday, Feb. 14. Noon-4 p.m. Germantown American Jobs Center, 12900 Middlebrook Rd, Germantown
  • Thursday, Feb. 15. 3-7 p.m. White Oak Recreation Center, 1700 April Ln, Silver Spring
  • Friday, Feb. 16. 2-6 p.m. McGee Library, 900 Wayne Ave, Silver Spring
  • Saturday, Feb. 17. 3-7 p.m. Executive Office Building Cafeteria, 101 Monroe St, Rockville
  • Tuesday, Feb. 20. 3-7 p.m. Gaithersburg Library, 18330 Montgomery Village Ave, Gaithersburg
  • Wednesday, Feb. 21. 3-7 p.m. East County Recreation Center, 3310 Gateshead Manor Way, Silver Spring
  • Friday, Feb. 23. 3-7 p.m. Mid-County Recreation Center, 2004 Queensguard Rd, Silver Spring
  • Wednesday, Feb. 28. 3-7 p.m. Long Branch Recreation Center, 8700 Piney Branch Rd, Silver Spring
  • Thursday, Feb. 29. Noon-4 p.m. Wheaton American Jobs Center, 11510 Georgia Ave Suite 100, Wheaton
  • Friday, March 1. 11 a.m-3 p.m. Germantown American Jobs Center, 12900 Middlebrook Rd, Germantown
  • Saturday, March 2. Noon-4 p.m. East County Recreation Center, 3310 Gateshead Manor Way, Silver Spring

Appointments become available for registration approximately two weeks before the event dates. Additional events will be added as locations are confirmed.

Supplies are anticipated to be depleted by May or June, therefore, residents are urged to schedule appointments at this time. To schedule an appointment to receive a computer, visit www.montgomerycountymd.gov/computer.

Photo: © Konstantin Savusia – stock.adobe.com

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