As the son of two educators and a father of four, education has always been a subject near to my heart. It’s also been an ever-present priority in my professional life, both when I was the Policy Chief for the National Urban League and when I served as the Legislative Director for now-Vice President Kamala Harris when she served in the United States Senate. The welfare of Black children has always been a driving force in my work and a central concern of the different policy positions I helped champion and support over the years.
Ours is an increasingly digital society, and the ways we live, work, and play continue to rely on technology and internet connectivity. As we continue to navigate the very real challenges associated with the ever-evolving coronavirus pandemic, our reliance on technology is sure to increase. What was once viewed as a luxury to some has now become the primary – if not exclusive – means of maintaining some semblance of normalcy during this time. And yet, while internet connectivity has become an essential part of our lives, more than 21.3 million Americans are still stuck on the wrong side of the digital divide. In few places is this divide felt more severely than among America’s school children. As Dr. Nicol Turner-Lee of The Brookings Institution noted, “With a disproportionate number of school-age children lacking home broadband access, the breadth of the U.S. digital divide has been revealed as schools struggle to substitute in-school resources with online instruction, electronic libraries, streaming videos, and other online tutorials.”
It goes without saying that our nation’s problem achieving universal home broadband adoption has been one of our greatest shortcomings as a society. Now, more than ever, it’s easy to see just how dire the consequences of that lack of access can be. Faced with the ongoing spread of COVID-19, and its attendant effects, we’re coming to realize that America may be faced with a new normal, at least in the months, and HYPERLINK “” \h potentially years, ahead in which more and more of our daily life is migrated online. Even as we come back together in person for school and work, connectivity is the price of admission to modern society, and we must make sure that our kids are not left behind.
At T-Mobile, we’re making an effort to bridge the homework gap by increasing wireless connectivity through Project 10 Million, a five-year, $700 million commitment to get 10 million families connected to the internet nationwide. For the duration of this program, we are providing free wireless hotspots and 100GB of data to households with children enrolled in the National School Lunch program, at no cost to students or their families. We also offer discounted laptops and tablets as part of this effort, and families and school districts interested in learning more about the program can visit HYPERLINK “” for more information.
As kids head back to school, we’re committed to supporting their progress with new technology resources and we’re laser-focused on helping to bridge the digital divide. The future we face is uncertain in many ways, but one thing is for sure, the internet will continue to be a critical part of the ways we connect and engage, perhaps more now than ever before. Being able to get and stay online is no longer a luxury for those who can afford it. All people, regardless of geography or economic status, must be given a chance to be active participants in our increasingly digital society.

WI Guest Author

This correspondent is a guest contributor to The Washington Informer.

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