An Assets-Based Response to the Digital Divide: Success for One Summer Youth Employment Program Serving a Minoritized Community During the COVID-19 Pandemic




The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the impact of the digital divide on student success in the United States. With almost zero preparation, programs serving young people completely restructured moving from face-to-face engagement to entirely virtual platforms. This study details discoveries made during a 2020 summer youth employment program for adolescent-aged interns that quickly pivoted to virtual program delivery. The study reveals an assets-based philosophy applied to the practice of the program and how that approach mitigated the consequences of the face-to-face to a virtual switch. Highlighted are ways that Yosso’s (2005) Community Cultural Wealth framework describes how the program staff created success in the unexpectedly virtual workspaces. Lastly, recommendations for facilitating virtual summer youth employment programming are provided.


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Author Biographies

Jessica C Enyioha, Texas State University, USA

Jessica C. Enyioha, M.Ed., is a social justice advocate who works to empower all students, especially students who have never been told that they can attend college and pursue a career. Enyioha’s philosophy is to lift as she climbs continuing to further her education in the School Improvement doctoral program as she assists in closing the opportunity gaps between students from privileged and underserved communities. Enyioha has dedicated her career to building the next generation of diverse leaders. Her research interests include college access for underserved students, community development, and educational policy.  Email:

Ann Marie Cotman, Texas State University, USA

Ann Marie Cotman, M.Ed., researches school safety at Texas State University in the School Improvement doctoral program. An educator since 1995 and a mother since 1998, Ann Marie fully respects and underscores that schools’ first and most important obligation is to create and maintain a safe learning environment. As a researcher she is determined to make sure that safety driven policies truly support the safety of all students and are not unexamined practices that instead produce poor and inequitable outcomes. Email: