April 15, 2022

New CAST Case Study: Digital Lending Library Forges Connections

BY LeadingAge

A new CAST case study explains how 2Life Communities, a LeadingAge Provider Member, kept its residents connected during the pandemic by lending them Chromebooks and tablets. Three-quarters of older adults who borrowed devices were able to socialize, says Facilitating Connection: The Power of Equipping Seniors with Devices to Broker Social Engagement.


2Life Communities is a nonprofit providing housing with services for older adults in the Boston area. In this project, 2Life intended to bridge the digital divide for older adults by fostering a symbiotic relationship between socialization and technology.


These goals guided the project:

  • During the pandemic, 2Life wanted to enable older adults to participate in 2Life and partners’ programming, forge relationships with their peers and staff, establish intergenerational connections with members of the larger community, and stay in touch with their families and friends.
  • Secondary goals were to provide older adults with technical skills that are essential for functioning in an increasingly digitized world and to create feelings of empowerment.

To keep its older adults connected during COVID-19, 2Life pioneered a Digital Device Lending Library (DDLL). Staff trained residents on using Samsung Chromebooks and Samsung Tab A’s, which were preloaded with internet cellular wireless connectivity and Zoom videoconferencing software.


In partnership with Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly (LBFE), a Boston-based nonprofit that serves older adults, 2Life staff have been offering coursework tailored for 2Life residents over Zoom.


The DDLL program has a strong intergenerational and volunteer-based component that benefits residents by providing opportunities for intergenerational connections and engagement.


Since the start of the program in the fall of 2020, 2Life has seen these positive outcomes:

  • 76% of older adults who borrowed a device have reported that the device has enabled them to socialize with family, friends, and others.
  • 74% have reported that it has enabled them to socialize with the 2Life community.


2Life provided internet-connected Chromebooks and tablets to 2Life’s older adults for free. Grants from the Tufts Health Plan Foundation (now Point32Health), the Association of Jewish Aging Services, Boston Resiliency Fund, the City of Boston, and investments by 2Life Communities funded the DDLL project.


For more details, read the full case study.