Three schools and two nonprofit organizations in Baltimore will receive 800 free mobile hotspots as well as free internet connectivity from Connected Nation and AT&T.
Connected Nation is a nonprofit founded in 2001 in Appalachia dedicated to getting online connectivity to communities. It is working with AT&T on a wider connected learning effort. In Baltimore, where the digital divide can leave as many as 40% of Baltimore households without internet service, organizations like Connected Nation are needed to fill the gap.
The schools and organizations locally that are receiving internet connectivity include:
- New Song Academy, the Sandtown-Winchester school, which also activated a community Wi-Fi hub last year
- PCs for People, the nonprofit that refurbishes computers to close the digital divide, which opened a local branch last year
- Baltimore International Academy, Inc., the international school based in Frankford
- Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, the Mount Vernon-based public charter school that has been advanced STEM efforts
- Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s OrchKids Program, the celebrated after-school music program
“Getting devices in the hands of students was only the first challenge when we had to close due to COVID,” said Doug Fireside, principal of New Song Academy, in a statement. “What we quickly realized is that devices without the ability to have a reliable high-speed internet connection at home meant that our goal of keeping all students connected to the school was almost impossible. Without the generosity of the collaboration between Connected Nation and AT&T, we would not have been able to keep some of our families on track with their virtual learning.”
The donation is part of a wider, $10 million program that aims to connect 35,000 students at 100 orgs and school districts around the country.
“These schools and nonprofits are critical to serving and supporting some of the most at-risk students across Baltimore,” said La Tara Harris, regional director for Maryland at AT&T External Affairs. “By helping to expand connectivity for the students in Baltimore, we can play a role in narrowing the homework gap and helping address inequities associated with virtual learning.”
Donte Kirby is a 2020-2021 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.