The Saracens Foundation is delighted to announce that Bloomberg, the global business and financial information and news leader, has become the main partner of the Digital Divide campaign.

Spearheaded by Saracens and English rugby star Maro Itoje, the Digital Divide campaign aims to provide every student with equal access to education during the pandemic. Ofcom estimates that over one million school-aged children across the UK still do not have access to a laptop or tablet on which to learn remotely. The campaign is working to bridge this educational divide by providing schools with much needed equipment so students can access lessons and resources from home.

The Saracens Foundation, through its partnership with Bloomberg, will make an immediate impact on young people across London and the surrounding areas who have struggled to access classes during the pandemic. Alongside launching an employee campaign to collect, wipe and redistribute old devices, Bloomberg is providing funding to configure and distribute an initial 2,000 laptops to local schools.

Maro Itoje who has expressed his deep concern for those children affected by the digital divide, said: “It is often said you judge a society on how they treat the vulnerable. Recent lockdowns have widened and exacerbated the negative consequences of the digital divide for the most vulnerable children in our society. This has the potential to have real and worrying ramifications on their life chances. The gap between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ will widen considerably if nothing is done to address this problem. The digital divide in this country poses a real threat to our children and together we must do all we can to help address it”.

Jemma Read, Bloomberg’s Global Head of Corporate Philanthropy, said: “For decades, Bloomberg has supported educational projects across the UK that help young people learn and thrive, regardless of their background or economic circumstances. Throughout this pandemic, many children have missed out on vital teaching time, through no fault of their own. Our partnership with the Saracens Foundation will help to support those most in need and start to address this educational imbalance. I’m hopeful that our involvement will encourage more organisations to join the campaign to close the digital divide.”

The partnership builds on Bloomberg’s long-term support for other non-profit organisations, such as the Sutton Trust and the Fair Education Alliance, who are working to close the UK’s educational attainment gap. Bloomberg and the Saracens Foundation will partner with other major businesses, employees, and individuals to continue gathering and distributing old devices which can be provided to the schools and students who need them most. Devices will be securely wiped and reset before being redistributed.

Since the pandemic began, many children and young people across the UK have been required to access educational content and learning materials from home. However, a critical lack of laptops and tablets means the educational gulf between those who ‘have’ and those who ‘have not’ has significantly increased.

A recent study by the Sutton Trust has shown that only 5% of teachers in state education believed that their pupils have access to a suitable device for remote learning, this translates into 84% of teachers predicting the attainment gap to increase over the lockdown period. Other research agrees that the situation is only going to worsen with the Education Endowment Foundation estimating that the attainment gap could widen to as much as 75% due to school closures.

The Saracens Foundation and Bloomberg want to ensure as many organisations as possible are involved in the Digital Divide campaign. More information about how you or your organisation can help can be found below: