Walking the Talk
AT&T, Connected Nation Provide 35K Hotspots and Free Internet to Help Vulnerable Students

AT&T committed $10M to respond to the need for increased at-home connectivity for students during the pandemic, and worked with Connected Nation to make it happen. The 124 awardees in the program represent 81 schools and 43 nonprofits spanning 26 states.

Connected Nation — a nonprofit technology organization committed to closing the digital divide in the US by bringing affordable high-speed Internet and broadband-enabled resources to families in need across the country — announced this week it has completed the distribution of 35,000 hotspots, thanks to a partnership and contribution by AT&T. The hotspots, equipped with more than a year of free internet service, will help connect some of the most vulnerable students across the country.

AT&T committed $10 million to respond to the need for increased at-home connectivity for students during the pandemic, and worked with Connected Nation to make it happen. The program officially opened in November 2020 to nonprofits and schools seeking to help their most vulnerable students. A list of awardees, including 124 schools and nonprofits spanning 26 states, was announced in February 2021.

“AT&T made a $10 million commitment in 2020 to help our nation’s most at-risk children access remote learning and the company has delivered on that promise,” said Tom Ferree, Chairman & CEO of Connected Nation. “The AT&T Connected Learning program is not only putting devices and services into the hands of students, but it’s focused on helping those who are facing some of the most difficult challenges that a child could endure — such as living in foster care or experiencing homelessness. It’s been exciting to work with AT&T to create positive change in the lives of these very deserving students, who were struggling to access their online classrooms.”

Some organizations opted to delay their hotspot and internet service delivery so that the year of free internet service would coincide with the start of the fall school semester. The program is primarily focused on providing access for students in the following groups:

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    Students in foster care

  • Students experiencing homelessness

  • English language learners

  • Students with disabilities

  • Students eligible for the Migrant Education Program

  • Other at-risk students who may be disconnected from formal education opportunities

“For years, AT&T has prioritized its commitment to education, and we continue our focus by helping to narrow the homework gap. Doing so begins with providing access to connectivity and devices — particularly for our nation’s most vulnerable students,” said Mylayna Albright, AVP of Corporate Social Responsibility at AT&T. “Collaborating with Connected Nation enables us to better identify how and where we can make the biggest impact so students most at risk can get the tools they need to succeed.”

“We were giving out computers; and people were constantly asking me if we had a way to get low-cost internet or free internet to go along with the computers,” said Dylan Zajac, founder and Executive Director of Computers 4 People — which refurbishes and donates used computers to people in need across the US. “It’s one of the things we really need to help close the digital divide in the country, so I was so happy to get a response from AT&T and Connected Nation for this program and give out these hotspots to help our local students in need.”

The 124 awardees in the program represent 81 schools and 43 nonprofits. Schools and nonprofits could seek up to 500 hotspots per application. To see the full list of awardees and learn more about the impact of this program, head to connectednation.org/homeworkgap.

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