AT&T helps students stay connected with access to digital learning

This is the first in a 3-part series on AT&T’s efforts to keep students connected to digital learning. Future stories will explore the company’s work to spread digital literacy and expand free internet access through connected community centers.

Dallas area schools reopen with in-person instruction. However, many students still struggle to complete their homework due to poor internet connection and lack of devices like laptops at home.

This is called the homework gap. The situation was laid bare last year as schools switched to online learning at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. And the gap continues as students rely on broadband connections to complete their assignments.

While 87% of households in the United States currently have a computer, smartphone, tablet or other device connected to the Internet, too many young Americans still find themselves excluded from the digital class. This is especially problematic in marginalized communities, where multiple people in the same household may share one or two devices – or may not be able to afford the technology at all.

To ensure students in Dallas and across the country are properly connected, AT&T is helping bridge the digital divide by implementing a number of new initiatives and expanding existing programs. In April 2021, the company announced it would invest $ 2 billion over the next three years to address the digital divide, a commitment that builds on its $ 1 billion investment to provide broadband service. and bring digital literacy to students.

“We believe that every student, regardless of geographic location or socio-economic status, should have the opportunity to thrive in school and beyond,” said Jeff McElfresh, CEO of AT&T Communications. “Reliable and affordable Internet access is essential to this success. Through this work, our goal is to help these previously unconnected people to seize meaningful learning opportunities, both inside and out. outside the classroom. “

With its new domestic commitment of $ 2 billion, AT&T will continue its previously established broadband expansion efforts as follows:

Continuous support for low cost Internet programs

  • Network creation – First, by building a strong network for the metropolitan area. From 2018 to 2020, AT&T invested nearly $ 3.5 billion in its wireless and wireline networks in Dallas-Fort Worth and Arlington. Over 51% of households in AT & T’s Internet service footprint in the D-FW area have access to fiber. And in South Dallas, which has a high percentage of low-income residents, that number is much higher, at 70%.
  • Support for schools As of March 2020, AT&T has connected more than 500,000 students and teachers in 50 states with agile mobile connectivity. AT&T continues to propose solutions to more than 135,000 public and private K-12 schools, colleges and universities so that students and educators can stay connected where they live, work, learn and play.
  • High speed at low cost Established five years ago, Access from AT&T makes the Internet more affordable for customers by providing eligible households with Internet services for $ 10 or less per month. In addition to the discounted rates, this offer from AT&T has no contract or installation fees and includes Wi-Fi services at no additional cost. For more details see att.com/access.
  • Emergency broadband service – Eligible households can temporarily reduce their monthly broadband costs. This federal program currently provides up to $ 50 per month (up to $ 75 per month for tribal lands) in benefits on a variety of broadband plans. Eligible households interested in enrolling in AT&T can apply their EBB program benefit to eligible home Internet services such as access from AT&T or AT&T Internet, within the wired footprint of the 21 states, or it can be applied to eligible AT&T PREPAID and Cricket Wireless plans.

Launch of the AT&T connected learning program

As part of its commitment to help bridge the digital divide, the company is also rolling out a new AT&T connected learning program aimed at making the internet and devices available to students in underserved communities, spreading digital culture and deliver engaging digital learning experiences for today’s connected learners. .

The program includes working with Connected Nation, a leading nonprofit focused on the challenges of broadband and digital technology, to support vulnerable students who lack regular internet service through connectivity. Free Internet and Wi-Fi hotspots. To date, approximately 120 organizations and locations across the United States have been selected to receive free hotspots, wireless data, and content filtering services. Seven of the winners are in Texas:

  • CASA of Central Texas, Inc. (Court-appointed special advocates), New Braunfels
  • THRIVE Inc., Houston
  • ISD Pride
  • EMERGE Scholarship, Houston
  • Bastrop ISD
  • Carrizo Springs CISD
  • Westwood CIO

This AT&T initiative is designed to serve the most vulnerable students, including host families, English learners, students with disabilities and the homeless.

Providing Access Points for Vulnerable Momentous Institute Students

In another AT&T connected learning initiative, the company provided hotspots to support young people at the Momentous Institute, an organization with a nationally recognized laboratory school located in the Oak Cliff neighborhood of Dallas to Kindergarten and Grades 3 to 5 students. . The school works with students and families to leverage social and emotional health and strong academics to cultivate a community of change makers.

A Momentous School student is completing an assignment online. AT&T provided Momentous Institute hotspots earlier this year to help students access the internet from anywhere.(Sheryl Lanzel)

“Digital literacy is the future,” said Dr Jessica Gomez, executive director of the Momentous Institute. “Programs like AT&T Hotspot Distribution create connections that help break down barriers to progress. “

Momentous Institute serves thousands of children in the D-FW region and is a leading provider of Spanish-speaking therapy. In a city with a large bilingual population, Gomez says the collaboration with AT&T gives families better access to internet connectivity, which can guarantee them access to e-learning and telehealth. As a result, thousands of children could still access essential education and mental health services offered by the Momentous Institute.

“It’s a matter of fairness,” Gomez said. “If we want our children to be successful, this is one of the many tools they need to be successful and to be agents of change in their communities and around the world.

An unwavering commitment to connectivity

AT & T’s investments reflect its commitment to providing educational and affordable resources to the millions of students who lack broadband connectivity.

“At AT&T, we have a long history of making connections – with each other and with what people need to thrive in their daily lives,” said Charlene Lake, AT&T Director of Sustainability and Senior Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility. “But connectivity alone is not enough to keep students engaged in learning, especially in a remote or hybrid environment. High-quality educational tools that complement and enrich classroom lessons can help students stay engaged and, more importantly, excited to learn.

To learn more about AT&T’s work to close the homework gap, visit att.com/connected learning.

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