More than $100K raised for girls who needed Taco Bell WiFi to do schoolwork

The photo posted to Instagram last week has sparked an online fundraising campaign as it highlighted the “digital divide” for low income students.
/ Source: NBC News

More than $115,000 has been raised for a migrant family in California after a photo was shared on social media of two girls using WiFi at a Taco Bell to complete schoolwork, highlighting the “digital divide” for low-income students.

The photo posted to Instagram last week has sparked an online fundraising campaign for the family. Kevin de León, president pro tempore of the California Senate, also shared the photo on his own social media, noting 40 percent of Latinos don’t have internet access.

“This is California, home to Silicon Valley ... but where the digital divide is as deep as ever,” León tweeted.

NBC News was not able to identify the family but confirmed with Salinas City Elementary School District that the girls are students in the district.

Salinas City Elementary School District said it has since provided wireless hotspots to the family and has placed additional orders to address Internet accessibility.

“The digital divide is very real, and delays in receiving needed technology are a statewide concern, we are grateful the state is making technology a priority and look forward to receiving these hotspots in our district,” said Amy Ish, president of the district's board of education.

But locals concerned for the girls wanted to help address their needs. For many, the photo was a reminder at how pervasive the pandemic has affected low-income families who may lose access to education for lack of connectivity.

A GoFundMe campaign was started by Jackie Lopez on Sunday after she was able to find the mother, Juana, a migrant worker.

“I asked her if I could get her girls a desk for distant learning and she mentioned there was no space in their home for that,” Lopez wrote on the GoFundMe page. “She then said she shared a small bedroom with her 3 girls in the home she was living in.”

Lopez started the fundraiser campaign after learning the family was going to be evicted from their rented room, according to the GoFundMe. By Monday evening, the campaign had raised more than $115,000 for the family.

“All children deserve a happy place to live and because of their dedication, these little girls deserve a safe space to learn,” Lopez wrote. “We appreciate every single one of you for helping making that happen.”

NBC News was not able to contact Lopez or the family through the GoFundMe campaign Monday.

A representative for GoFundMe confirmed to NBC News that the campaign was verified and that the platform was working to ensure the funds get to Juana.