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Sarasota Wednesday, Apr. 3, 2019 8 months ago

Sarasota County Schools collaborates to provide free internet access to low-income students

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Sprint’s 1Million Project aims to help approximately “1 million low-income high school students across the country by providing them with free high-speed Internet access at home.”
by: Samantha Chaney Staff Writer

In order to close what Sarasota County Schools refers to as the “homework gap,” the district has partnered with Sprint and the Gulf Coast Community Foundation to enable students from low-income families to have free internet access.

According to a release by Sarasota County Schools, 70% of America’s school teachers assign homework to be completed online, though internet access is not universal among students and their families.

Sarasota’s school district reached out to the Gulf Coast Community Foundation, which helped them secure a grant for Sprint’s 1 Million Project Foundation, which aims to provide free home-based internet access for students in need.

“When students don’t have reliable access to the Internet, it’s putting them at a disadvantage that doesn’t need to happen,” GCCF President and CEO Mark Pritchett said. “Gulf Coast has already partnered with the school district to equip classrooms with cutting-edge technology, and students love it. Now we need to make sure they have the tools to succeed away from the classroom, too.”

Sarasota County Schools will begin to survey eligible students in May to select its first 850 students, who are expected to receive their internet hotspots in August.

Eligible students may also receive free wireless devices as the program continues.

Sarasota County Schools intends to focus on rising eighth graders, as their hotspot will remain in their possession throughout high school and graduation, according to the release.

“We are so thankful to be a part of this initiative,” said Laura Kingsley, the assistant superintendent and chief academic officer of Sarasota County Schools. “It is vital for our students to have access to resources that will help them succeed because we want learning and discovery to be a lifelong pursuit for all our students. We appreciate community partners like Gulf Coast Community Foundation and Sprint for realizing the necessity of reducing the opportunity gaps for our students.”

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