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White House’s ConnectED Initiative Will Provide Year-Long WiFi to 5,000 NYC Public School Students in Need

White House’s ConnectED Initiative Will Provide Year-Long WiFi to 5,000 NYC Public School Students in Need

Thanks to the White House’s ConnectED initiative, Google, Sprint and three New York City library systems, up to 5,000 of the city’s public school students will now be able to access free WiFi hotspots for the entirety of a school year.

The New York City Department of Education made the announcement at the end of last month as the next phase of its Library HotSpot program.

The initiative is available to families of students in any public school, but is primarily focusing on schools in high-need neighborhoods with low internet connectivity; advertising for the initiative will focus on the city’s Community Schools.

"Eligibility to borrow one of the 5,000 free hotspots, which are powered by Sprint as part of the White House’s ConnectED Initiative, extends to City residents who are over 18, report no internet at home, report having at least one public school student in grades pre-K through 12, have a fine-free library card, and attend a lending event at one of the participating branches,” the department said in its announcement.

The White House’s ConnectED initiative was announced by President Obama in 2013 with the intention of ensuring 99 percent of American students have access to next-generation broadband by 2018.

"The President also directed the federal government to make better use of existing funds to get Internet connectivity and educational technology into classrooms, and into the hands of teachers trained on its advantages,” says ConnectED’s website.

NYC's Library HotSpot initiative specifically aims to alleviate the burden many NYC families feel from not being connected to the internet. According to most recent data, one-third of NYC houses are currently unconnected.

“Children who cannot use the internet to work on school projects are at risk of falling behind in the classroom, while adults from unconnected households often face challenges in finding satisfying, well-paid employment. There is no substitute for home internet access, and Brooklyn Public Library is proud to partner with the DOE to loan mobile hotspots to the New Yorkers who need them most,” said Brooklyn Public Library President and CEO Linda E. Johnson in the announcement.

The initiative was made possible in part by a $1 million donation from Google.

"Google is continuing to invest in its efforts to provide some of the most underserved in our City with a viable way to bridge the digital divide,” said Ben Fried, Google’s Chief Information Officer.

Read the DOE’s full announcement here. 

Nicole Gorman, Senior Education World Contributor

10/10/2016

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