Chancellor Fariña, Deputy Mayor Buery, Senior Advisor Fialkoff, Sprint’s 1Million Project Launch Initiative to Provide Free Wi-Fi Devices to Over 30,000 Public School Students

  • Posted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 Updated: Wed Apr 18, 2018

Students will be able to use the devices to complete assignments, study, and do research outside of school hours

NEW YORK – Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña, Deputy Mayor Richard Buery, and Senior Advisor Gabrielle Fialkoff today launched a new initiative with Sprint and the Sprint Foundation’s 1Million Project facilitated by the Fund for Public Schools to provide free wireless devices for all 30,775 students attending 66 high schools in New York City’s Community Schools initiative.

Students will be able to use the devices to complete assignments, study, and do research outside of school hours, and may keep the devices while they attend high school. They can access the internet directly from their devices, or use the devices as hotspots to log on to the internet from tablets, laptops, and desktops.  The initiative builds on an existing partnership with the City’s three library systems, Google, and Sprint to loan 5,000 Wi-Fi hotspots to public school families annually – with outreach targeted to Community Schools.  

“Over 30,000 high school students will use this internet access to complete homework assignments, study, and do independent research and reading,” said Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña. “I thank Sprint, the Sprint Foundation and the Fund for Public Schools for making this possible, and I look forward to seeing how schools, students, and families use this resource to strengthen learning.”

“New York City’s 227 Community Schools allow students and families to access a range of resources – strong mental health services to financial education – that help create a healthy environment for learning in the classroom and at home. For low and middle-income students, free, high-speed home wifi can mean the difference between excelling at school and falling behind. I am so excited to stand alongside our partners at Sprint to deliver a resource that truly embodies our promise of equity and excellence to New York City students,” said Richard Buery, Deputy Mayor for Strategic Policy Initiatives.  

“When the Mayor announced his equity and excellence agenda two years ago, we knew there would be challenges that could not be addressed by government alone,” said Gabrielle Fialkoff, Senior Advisor to the Mayor and Director of the Office of Strategic Partnerships. “By partnering with Sprint, we are not only equipping our students with the tools they need to be the best students they can be, we are putting the latest technology into their hands, which will no doubt better prepare them for a workforce more reliant on technology with each passing day.”

New York City’s 227 Community Schools are neighborhood hubs that provide students with the support they need inside and outside of the classroom. This includes expanded learning opportunities; robust family engagement; an explicit focus on social-emotional development; and critical programs and services like vision screening, mentoring, adult education, and mental health counseling through partnerships with community based organizations. New York City is the largest Community Schools system in the nation.

The 66 participating high schools include 23 in the Bronx, 24 in Brooklyn, nine in Manhattan, nine in Queens, and one on Staten Island.

“Learning shouldn’t have to end when the school day does, but for many of these kids, that’s exactly what happens when they go home and do not have access to the internet,” said Karen Paletta, Sprint’s Region President for New York and New Jersey. “Sprint is so proud to have New York City, the largest school district in the country, join the 1Million Project this year and give over 30,000 students the tools they need to succeed.”

“Millions of families across the country lack internet access in their homes, but seventy percent of America’s high school teachers assign homework that requires online connectivity,” said Doug Michelman, President of Sprint’s 1Million Project. “It’s not right that so many kids should have to struggle to do their work and reach their potential, and that’s why we are committed to doing what we can to help level the playing field for students here in New York and in high schools all across the U.S.”

“The Fund for Public Schools is pleased to have facilitated this new relationship between the NYC DOE and Sprint and the Sprint Foundation to provide over 30,000 students with devices and bandwidth that will allow them to continue their journey to academic excellence outside the classroom,” said Sarah Geisenheimer, Executive Director of the Fund for Public Schools. “Public-private partnerships like the 1Million Project support innovation that is critical to realizing Equity and Excellence for All.”

“The success of our Community Schools relies on building connections between the home and school, and that’s exactly the opportunity these devices provide. Students will be able to continue their learning and work on assignments at home, and families will be better able than ever to be a part of their children’s schoolwork. When schools, families, businesses, and community organizations partner with one another, we can bring unprecedented resources to our students and families,” said Chris Caruso, Executive Director for New York City Community Schools.

A 2015 analysis by the Center for Economic Opportunity found that 35 percent of households below the poverty line do not have internet access at home. New York City’s Community Schools serve a high percentage of students from high-poverty neighborhoods. Even for students and families that may have some internet access, there may be multiple students in the same household working from a single computer; internet at a low-bandwidth (i.e. dial-up) that is not adequate for homework or research; or internet that is not consistently available due to economic instability.

The 66 Community Schools participating in the initiative include all 61 high schools that were Community Schools in the 2016-17 school year, and the five Community high schools new for the 2017-18 school year that serve a population with the highest percentage of students in poverty. Community Schools are distributing the devices beginning this week at Family Night and other parent and community events. Schools are holding information sessions on device use, and will continue to provide support to students and families on device use throughout the school year. On their devices, students will receive 3GB of high-speed LTE data per month, and unlimited data is available at 2G speed if usage exceeds 3GB in a month.

During 2016, the Sprint Foundation, in partnership with Sprint, launched a new signature program, the 1Million Project, to help close the homework gap by providing free devices and free high-speed internet connectivity to 1 million low-income high school students (over five years) who lack home access to the internet. The Sprint Foundation will support the 1Million Project by purchasing new devices (smartphones, tablets, hotspots), providing educational resources, administering the program and funding program training for eligible high school students. The 2017-18 school year marks the first year of the initiative with more 180,000 students in 1,300 schools across 30 states. Every year over the next five years, hundreds of thousands of high schoolers who lack internet access at home will join and benefit from the 1Million Project.

“Internet access is the key public utility of the digital age,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. “Every single student deserves high-speed internet access at home not just for schoolwork, but for independent learning and to connect to the wider world that school is supposed to prepare them for. Sprint’s generosity in providing this service to our 30,000-plus Community Schools Initiative high school students is truly laudable.”

“For today’s students, internet access is an outright necessity. That’s why DOE’s push to equip students with free Wi-Fi devices is so critical,” said Assembly Member Yuh-Line Niou. “With this initiative, high school students across the City will be able to research and complete assignments away from their school desk, without skipping a beat. I commend DOE for their work towards closing educational gaps, and I look forward to continuing to advocate in the Assembly for public schools resources.” 

“These free Wi-Fi devices will make it easier for students to complete homework and other assignments,” said NYC Council Education Committee Chairperson Daniel Dromm. “This new initiative helps modernize our schools and builds upon other developments that help our children learn. I thank Sprint, the Sprint Foundation and the Fund for Public Schools for this generous gift.”

“By providing free Wi-Fi devices for 30,000 high school students and their families, our City is breaking new ground in our movement for equitable access and opportunity for our future leaders,” said Council Member Margaret S. Chin. “The 1Million Project will ensure that internet access no longer poses as a barrier to our students’ success and learning. Thank you to Mayor de Blasio, Chancellor Fariña, Deputy Mayor Buery, the Sprint Foundation and the Fund for Public Schools for their joint efforts to make this initiative a success.”

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