Empowering Baltimore: Mayor Scott Partners with BCIT and Pratt Library to Bridge the Digital Divide with Free Chromebooks

Through a grant from the State of Maryland’s Connected Devices Program, Baltimore City received 30,000 Chromebooks.

On October 3, 2023, Mayor Brandon M. Scott—along with Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) Secretary Jake Day—announced Baltimore City would distribute 30,000 free Chromebooks to eligible Baltimore City households. 

“Closing the digital divide is one of the most important steps our community must take to improve equity in our city,” said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. “So much of the battle in addressing this issue is access and affordability, and with these 30,000 Chromebooks, our city is poised to help tackle both for so many families. With this technology, we can help these families be better connected and ensure students are gaining the skills they’ll need to be successful in the digital age. I cannot thank our partners enough for their collaboration in this effort and their dedication to closing Baltimore’s digital divide for good.”

The Chromebooks were secured through a grant from the State of Maryland’s Connected Devices program, which is overseen by Maryland DHCD and assists counties and municipal governments in their digital equity and inclusion efforts.

“Across the state, there are hundreds of thousands of Marylanders whose entire economic future will be either limited–or unlocked–by whether or not they have access to affordable internet,” said Maryland DHCD Secretary Jake Day. “The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development is proud to work with Baltimore City and Pratt Library to distribute 30,000 devices to get more Marylanders online—a crucial step in our work to close the digital divide.”

To distribute the Chromebooks, Baltimore City Information & Technology’s (BCIT) Office of Broadband & Digital Equity (BDE) has partnered with Enoch Pratt Free Library to serve as the City’s primary distribution partner. In this role, Pratt Library will assist residents in verifying their eligibility and scheduling a pickup appointment at either its Central Library or Southeast Anchor Library locations. More distribution locations are expected to be added in the coming months.

Appointments to receive a Chromebook can be made online at prattlibrary.org/getadevice, or by calling the Central Library (410-396-5430) and Southeast Anchor Library (410-396-1580) locations. On the day of an appointment, the following is required to receive a Chromebook:

  • Photo ID (driver’s license, state ID, work or government ID, passport, etc.)
  • Proof of Baltimore City residence
  • Proof of one of the following qualifications:
    • Households with an income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
      • $27,180 for a household of 1
      • $36,620 for a household of 2
      • $46,060 for a household of 3
      • $55,500 for a household of 4
      • Or, $9,440 more for each additional household member
    •  Households enrolled in the federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)
    • Households participating in government assistance programs, such as:
      • Child receives free or reduced-price school lunch
      • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
      • Medicaid
      • Pell Grant (current award year)
      • SNAP (formerly Food Stamps)
      • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
      • Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefit
      • WIC

“We are proud to be working with our state and city partners to make sure these devices get into the hands of the people who need them the most. But we know that providing access is not enough. That is why the Pratt Library also provides free technology training and support for customers across Baltimore City to help people meet their goals,” said Pratt Library President and CEO Heidi Daniel.

“This is a huge step forward in further addressing one of the major equity gaps experienced by many of our residents…affordability,” said BDE Director Kenya Asli. “With internet assistance programs like the Affordable Connectivity Program and the Maryland Emergency Broadband Benefit subsidy already in place, and now the availability of Chromebooks, residents with the greatest need have viable means of fully participating in a digital society.”

In addition to scheduling an appointment at one of Pratt Library’s distribution locations, eligible households will have opportunities to secure a Chromebook during various distribution events hosted at local community sites throughout Baltimore City.


About the Office of Broadband & Digital Equity

The Office of Broadband & Digital Equity (BDE), a division of Baltimore City Information & Technology, leads the City’s efforts to close the digital divide permanently and serves as Baltimore City government’s primary liaison with internal and external stakeholders in digital equity. BDE envisions Baltimore as a city where residents can fully participate in the digital ecosystem and have access to devices, technical assistance, digital education, and affordable and reliable internet in the home. For more information about the City’s BDE programs and initiatives, email bde@baltimorecity.gov or call (443) 984-9740.

About Enoch Pratt Free Library

The Enoch Pratt Free Library, the nation’s first free library system, opened its doors in 1886, the result of the generosity and imagination of businessman and philanthropist Enoch Pratt. Mr. Pratt envisioned a public library where “races, ages, and socio-economic classes mingled and people could educate themselves – without cost,” and his passionate belief continues to guide the organization. Today’s Pratt Library – Baltimore’s public library and the Maryland State Library Resource Center – consists of the Central Library, 21 branches, two bookmobiles, the Mobile Job Center, the Pratt Centers for Technology Training, and the Regional Information Center. The Library’s mission is to empower, enrich, and enhance the quality of life for all through equitable access to information, services, and opportunity.

About the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development

Through funding and technical assistance, the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) works with local governments, nonprofit organizations, community groups, and businesses to revitalize cities, towns and neighborhoods across Maryland. DHCD’s community development programs enhance existing neighborhood resources, support economic development, provide public services and infrastructure, and improve the quality of life for residents. Assistance from DHCD is designed to serve as a tool for communities and organizations to leverage additional funding from public, private, and nonprofit sources.