The digital divide is a real thing.
Many students do not have internet access at home, and many do. It is easy, especially for anyone reading this blog, listening to my podcast, or working walking down the street in most areas, to forget that there are still families out there that don’t have internet access. But it is real.
My school has around 65% of our students on either free or reduced lunch. For my area, that’s actually not too high. Some schools are closer to 100% and many are over the 75% threshold that label them what is known as a Title I school.
Sprint is doing something about this massive problem. Yes, I said Sprint. They have started the 1 Million Project, an attempt to provide free internet to students in need.
My district has received the ability to participate in the first round of this project, and I was put in charge of making sure our qualified students received the devices. This consisted of sending out a qualification survey (which consisted of the simple question “Do you have high speed internet at home?”), calling all those students down, providing them the parent permission forms, collecting the forms, and activating the devices.
(All in the first week of school…while we’re still trying to get laptops handed out to students and everything setup… I guess I shouldn’t be picky with some of this, but it would be nice if every decision made by my district wasn’t shadowed by terrible implementation…)
The initial survey consisted of 62 students who self-identified as eligible. From there, I called them all down and discussed what the program meant. By the end of Wednesday last week, I had it down to 35 who were truly eligible and in need.
The coolest part is that on Friday of last week, I got to activate and send home 25 students (who completed their paperwork) with a wireless hotspot device to use for all their homework! You should have seen how excited they were as they left with the devices. These are high-schoolers, teenagers who are barely excited about anything. And they walked away with their Sprint bags with their hotspots, with a smile on their face.
These students get 3GB per month of 4G, high speed, Sprint data connection, and it costs them nothing at all for the device or the service for the year!
Thank you so much Sprint for sponsoring this program and selecting my school for it. My students thank you as well.