Sprint One Million: Closing the Digital Divide
As the lead Community Based Organization (CBO) at Long Island City High School, the Zone 126 Team have been tasked with the Sprint One Million Project through the NYCDOE.
This initiative will help high school students and their families gain access to a free wifi hotspot for students’ entire high school careers. Bridging this digital divide, students will have the ability to research, complete academic assignments, and connect with their teachers via emails and messaging systems. Families can also utilize the 3GB monthly hotspot for personal use.
Even as internet access seems increasingly ubiquitous, a “digital divide” between rich and poor remains. The rich and educated are still more likely than others to have good access to digital resources according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. The digital divide has especially far-reaching consequences when it comes to education. For children in low-income school districts, inadequate access to technology can hinder them from learning the tech skills crucial to success in today’s economy.
During the Parent Teacher Conferences at Long Island City High School, Community School Director Michelle Makabali and Organizing Director Andre Stith were able to see how families utilized the hotspot. One of the primary functions displayed that evening enabled parents to connect with the online PupilPath system which provides additional details about their child’s progress.
Zone 126 staff dressed in eye-catching yellow shirts to encourage signups at their wireless hotspot table. Student interns assisted in displaying the phones on every floor and directing parents to the signup table where staff explained the details of the Sprint One Million project to students addressed families’ questions.
Organizing Director Andre Stith, spoke with Shawn Perdue, the father of a Long Island City High School freshman about the device. “It has helped him a lot with researching for homework. He takes it with him everywhere he goes and he shares it with his nephew all the time” says Mr. Perdue. Mr. Perdue also said he as well as his wife has used it as well. He also commended the hotspots’ added benefit of saving on their family’s monthly phone bill. The Sprint One Million Project is one giant step towards closing the digital divide.
The Zone 126 Team has been working diligently to continuously collect parental consent forms and activate hotspots. Basic information about the program is located below and more can be found on the NYC Community Schools website:
- Every high school student will receive a free wireless hotspot to use until they graduate; Hotspots will provide 3GB of high speed data access monthly (good for homework and research, but not for streaming movies or video). If they use up their 3GB, they can still access unlimited data at 2G speeds;
- Students will not be able to text or call from devices, only browse or connect a computer or tablet to the internet;
Devices are set up to provide safe internet access for students, and Sprint has agreed to not use or sell personal student information for marketing or other purposes;
- Schools will hold an additional 10% in inventory to manage lost, damaged or stolen devices;
Sprint will provide technical assistance on the devices through its normal customer service.
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