3 keys to big city’s plan to close digital divide
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.
“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:
- Free, wired and reliable broadband internet service from Comcast’s Internet Essentials program or a high-speed mobile hotspot for housing-insecure families who need a portable option.
- Distribution of Chromebooks, tablets or computers.
- Free skills training and tech support for students, families and teachers.
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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