Philadelphia, PA - The City of Philadelphia announced a new program to help connect more than 35,000 low-income K-12 students with internet service and devices. To help improve Philadelphia student's digital skills training and tech support for families during the school year and COVID-19 pandemic.
What is PHLConnectED
A coalition of businesses, schools, and civic leaders worked together to support the initiative. The three core components of PHLConnectED (pronounced P-H-L Connected) include:
- Free wired, high-speed, reliable broadband internet to the home from Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, or a high-speed mobile hotspot for families who are housing-insecure or need a portable option.
- Distribution of devices, such as Chromebooks, tablets, or computers. Devices have already been paid for and procured through the School District, some Charters, and private funds.
- Free skills training and tech support for students, families, and teachers to ensure they not only get connected but also stay connected and safely take full advantage of all that the internet has to offer.
PHLConnectED is the first stage of the City’s digital equity initiative to move towards internet learning and digital literacy skills development for all Philadelphia residents and students.
“Our goal is to identify and implement affordable, simple, and reliable digital access solutions for all our residents,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “By focusing on K-12 student households now, we can have an immediate impact in bridging the digital divide, especially to support distance learning for the upcoming school year.”
Who is Eligible for PHLConnectED
"Eligibility for this program is designed to ensure that families with the greatest need for internet service are prioritized. The first phase is focused on connecting K-12 student households who currently do not have any internet access or who only have mobile phone access and/or who are homeless or housing insecure. These student households are being identified by the Philadelphia School District, the Charter Schools Office, other schools, and internet service providers."
"Eligible households will be contacted by their school directly through direct mail, email, calls, and/or text messages later this month. Partners are working to quickly set up PHLConnectED and will share additional details about the initiative within the next few weeks. More information will be regularly updated at phila.gov/PHLConnectED. "
"This phase of PHLConnectED will cost $17.1 million over two years to implement, this means $9.1 million in year one and $8 million in year two. Philanthropic partners are generously contributing over $11 million, the City is contributing $2 million from CARES Act funding, and the remaining costs will be shared among the School District, charter, independent mission, and private schools, as well as other donations. Individuals interested in contributing to this effort, are invited to donate at www.mayorsfundphila.org/initiatives/phlconnected/." - City of Philadelphia Press Release