3 keys to big city’s plan to close digital divide

Philadelphia's homeless and housing insecure families will get mobile hotspots and devices
By: | August 10, 2020
With Philadelphia schools sticking with full online learning, the PHLConnectED equity initiative will provide broadband internet, devices and digital skills training to low-income families.With Philadelphia schools sticking with full online learning, the PHLConnectED equity initiative will provide broadband internet, devices and digital skills training to low-income families.

Some 35,000 low-income K-12 students will get free broadband internet and devices for online learning through Philadelphia’s digital equity initiative to close the digital divide.

With the school year starting fully online, PHLConnectED—spearheaded by the city of Philadelphia and the school district—will also provide digital skills training and tech support for families.

“The digital divide is an inequity that presents a significant barrier to our goal of helping all students in every neighborhood reach their full academic potential,” William R. Hite Jr., superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia, said in a statement.

PHLConnectED has three components:

In the first phase of the program, which is also backed by a coalition of businesses and philanthropic organizations, families who have no internet access or only mobile phone access will be connected. Homeless and housing insecure will also get priority service.


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This phase of PHLConnectED will cost $17.1 million over two years to implement. Philanthropic partners are contributing over $11 million and the city is using $2 million from CARES Act funding.

The School District of Philadelphia, charter schools and private schools will share the remaining costs.


DA’s coronavirus page offers complete coverage of the impacts on K-12.


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