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XMission’s gift of computers to ‘help close digital divide’ for underserved Salt Lake students

50 computers were distributed to students at West, Highland and East high schools

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Echa Malenga and her son, Gerome Msambya, smile as they carry an HP Chromebook and Wi-Fi hotspot, donated to Msambya by Pete Ashdown, president and founder of XMission, outside of Highland High School in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, June 9, 2020. Msambya came to Utah about a year and a half ago after living in a refugee camp in Tanzania. Malenga, who is Congolese, estimates she spent between 22-23 years in the refugee camp in Tanzania where her son was born.

Kristin Murphy, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — In an effort “to help close the digital divide” experienced by low-income students in Salt Lake City, XMission gave away 50 computers Tuesday to students at West, East and Highland high schools.

The giveaway was both a gift and a challenge to other technology companies to step up, said Pete Ashdown, president and founder of XMission.

“XMission is proud to help close the digital divide, so every student can have accesses to education on the internet,” said Ashdown in a statement.

“We challenge our fellow tech companies to do the same.”

The gift was made in partnership with the Salt Lake Education Foundation, which works with community partners to help ensure students’ access to technology so they can be successful at distance learning necessitated by the COVID-19 pandemic and during the regular school year.

“We are grateful to XMission for supporting our students’ educational needs,” said James Yapias, director of the Salt Lake Education Foundation.

“They are a leader in closing the digital divide and helping work towards digital inclusion,” Yapias said.

The computers were distributed at the city’s high schools, with some delivered directly to students’ homes.

XMission, founded in 1993, is one of the oldest internet service companies in the United States. It provides high-speed internet connectivity, email, web hosting, digital phone services, colocation and professional services to residents and businesses from its Salt Lake City headquarters.