Today, there are over five million students in 1:1 school districts that don’t have internet access at home. While so many of us take internet access for granted, think what it would be like to go from using your school issued laptop, tablet or Chromebook, having to finish a project and getting home with no way to reach the internet.
This isn’t a problem relegated to inner city school districts or rural areas. It’s relevant in every city in America. It’s not a question of towers anymore it’s a question of affordability and access. For instance, while we were at FETC in Orlando we found out that Orange County Florida has thousands of students that don’t have internet access when they get home from school.
Some folks call this the “homework gap” some call it “homework equity” or “access equity”. Whatever you want to call it, this limited access for millions of American students goes well beyond the “digital divide”.
We all know that T-Mobile does some amazing things. Who doesn’t love free Netflix, WYSIWYG billing and Slow Cooker Sundays. But did you know that T-Mobile is leading the charge to help reduce this “homework gap” across the country. John Legere, the CEO of T-Mobile wants to live in a world where “we don’t have internet at home” is as ridiculous an excuse as “the dog ate my homework” Today, it’s a very real problem.
Through their EmpowerED initiative, launched three years ago, T-Mobile provides tablets and connected devices with unlimited internet access to Title I schools so that students have devices to use with internet access when they get home. They also want those students’ families to be able to access job application websites, research websites and even Google.
Interested, Title I schools can apply through T-Mobile’s EmpowerED web page. Once approved, T-Mobile just wants a commitment from the schools chosen for the program, that students will take the devices home to do school work, and that they will supply this data back to T-Mobile.
Schools selected for the program will get a $200 credit towards connected devices that students can use.
This is just one of the many community initiatives that are exclusive to T-Mobile. We found out at FETC that the same community minded, socially aware company, also provides connected devices that residents in Broward County Florida can check out for free, as easily as books. This same program is offered in a number of libraries across the country. This gives people access to important resources that they can’t find without a connected device.
Schools can check out EmpowerEd here.