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Women's History Month: Dr. Graylyn Swilley Woods Works Hard To Overcome Digital Divide For Overtown Students

MIAMI (CBSMiami) - When schools switched to remote learning during the pandemic, some students in underserved communities fell behind because they didn't have the tools to learn online.

Dr. Graylyn Swilley Woods saw the issue immediately, it reminded her of the inequities she grew up with as schools were just getting desegregated.

"It was just coming out of that, Overtown is a segregated community, Liberty City is still segregated, I don't know if that's a bad thing, I think lack of resources is the bad thing," Dr. Wood said.

Woods is the executive director of Overtown Children and Youth Coalition. She's dedicated her life to helping youth overcome systemic problems.

"I mean to do your homework on your cellphone, the majority of them during the pandemic that was their only alternative because things happened so fast," she said.

When COVID-19 began breaking out in schools, Woods saw firsthand how some students in the Overtown community either couldn't complete their school work or struggled.

"We discovered even with kids who were given laptops from schools they had to return them during the summer, they were usually not in very good shape. We see those devices as the new books, the new learning tools and it's impossible for anyone to succeed without being technology savvy."

Woods partnered up with the Miami Foundation and other community groups to ensure kids had a laptop device.

"Our goal is 5,000 laptops over the next 5 years, 3-5, we've already given out 100 plus."

It wasn't just laptops, Woods realized students also needed high-speed internet. She also secured broadband services and training programs for web development.

"It's more than just a laptop it's creating a culture of learning it's creating a culture of technology use and it's ushering another generation forward."

She's just a single person, but she hopes by working to empower a greater community, others one day will join her in uplifting the youth.

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