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(ARA) – A few years ago, if a student was using an electronic device during class, you could bet that the teacher would confiscate it. Now, in our increasingly digital age, teachers often encourage students to bring their tablets, smartphones and laptops to school with them.

In fact, there is proven value in engaging students in technology. According to a recent study from Walden University, educators believe that students who use technology frequently are more likely to take initiative, come to class and work well in teams than students who do not.

Unfortunately, continued school budget cuts and lack of funding make it difficult for many teachers to incorporate technology into their lessons. A survey on media and technology conducted last year by PBS and Grunwald Associates, showed that while teachers highly value classroom technology – like interactive whiteboards – less than half actually use it in the classroom. Even more surprising, only 24 percent use digital technology on a daily basis.

Since education budget cuts are likely to continue, it is important for community members to do their part to help students succeed. Here are some things you can do to equip your local schools with the technology they may need:

  • Donate old devices: Do you have an old laptop, computer, tablet or other mobile device that you no longer use? Instead of trashing it, consider donating it to your local school district. Refurbished devices can be extremely helpful in the classroom. You can also ask local businesses to donate old electronic devices to your school.
  • Fundraise: Organize a fundraiser and use the profits to support technological programs and advancements for your school. Be creative; try organizing a bake sale, car wash or pasta dinner.

  • Grant programs: There are many federal and private grant programs available out there that aim to help schools fund their programming, activities and curriculum. Do a little digging to find some that would support the growth of technology in your school. Once you’ve located one, nominate your school or submit a request for funding on their behalf. One example is the “Power a Bright Future” grant program, sponsored by The Clorox Company, which aims to give parents and teachers the opportunity to nominate a local school for the chance to win up to $50,000 in grant money. Find out how to nominate your school by visiting Nominations will be accepted until Oct. 17, 2011. (Note: Terms and conditions will apply.)

Technology is a growing part of our daily lives and it is important that today’s students learn how use it effectively to be successful later in life. Doing what you can to help will make a difference to see that students do not get lost in the digital divide.