Bridging the Digital Divide

Foster Youth Are the MOST Disconnected Young People

Youth in foster care are among the most digitally disconnected populations in the country. On average, 80% of foster youth do not have access to the Internet and a computer where they live. This compares to only 10% of “average” teenagers, and 21% of low-income teens. Without this access, our kids fall behind and drop out of school, do not go to college, and face unemployment and poverty.
Phones for Foster Youth
  • A $22 million California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) pilot program with iFoster that provides mobile phones to 33,000 California current and former foster youth.
  • Free new smartphone with free unlimited voice, text, and data.
  • Leverages Federal Lifeline program funded by Universal Service Fund.
  • Replicated for pandemic response in multiple states.
  • Replication of LifeLine pilot program with other State Utility Commissions.
Laptops for Foster Youth
  • iFoster partners with Microsoft and computer manufacturers to distribute low-cost computers and tablets to help foster youth succeed in school, apply for jobs, and build their support networks.
  • Government and philanthropy have made it possible to provide free laptops to students, job programs graduates and iFoster TAY AmeriCorps Members.
  • In 2020, iFoster provided over 10,000 laptops nationwide for distance learning.
Tech Access Outcomes
In 2016, iFoster had USC study 730 Los Angeles, Placer, and Madera transition-age foster youth who received our laptops. Results showed:
Improved Academic Performance
      • Improved grades.
      • Reduced missed school days.
      • Increased pursuit of college and employment.
Stronger Social Network
      • Improved relationship with bio family.
      • More likely to connect with support network.
Increased Life Satisfaction
    • Increased life satisfaction and self-esteem.
    • Reduced depression and suicidality.
iFoster Tech Access ToolKit
iFoster has worked with Children’s Bureau to develop a Tech Access Toolkit for tribes, states and community-based organizations to be able to replicate iFoster’s programming to bridge the digital divide. This includes planning, program model, operating procedures, and templates:
  1. Program design.
  2. Access to technology and unlimited data.
  3. Outreach to eligible recipients.
  4. Efficient distribution.
  5. Funding from philanthropy and/or government.
  6. Activities to leverage existing government programs such as LifeLine.
If you are interested in the replication toolkit, please email
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