The leaders are dedicating $12 million to this cause
On Feb. 2, Mayor Michelle Wu and Senator Ed Markey announced that they are investing $12 million in bringing digital equity and inclusion to approximately 23,000 public housing residents, school age families, and library users. The money will provide free access to wireless broadband service and devices, helping public housing seniors and residents use the internet, and it will also provide Chromebooks to Boston Public School students.
“All Boston residents should have high-speed internet to help access school, work, and stay connected with loved ones,” said Wu. “I am incredibly grateful to Senator Ed Markey and FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel for funding the Emergency Connectivity Fund to address digital connectivity needs in Boston.”
The Boston Public Library will also receive $2.2 million in Emergency Connectivity Funding “to acquire and distribute Chromebooks and home router Wi-Fi access for 3,000 Boston Public Library patrons in public housing.”
Furthermore, Boston Public Schools will “receive nearly $10 million for Chromebooks and to support connectivity for 20,000 Boston Public Schools’ families. This deployment will address additional needs following BPS’ initial distribution of 55,000 chromebooks and 8,000 hotspots/home routers.”
Markey commented on why digital equity and inclusion is important to him.
“I fought to create the Emergency Connectivity Fund for K-12 distance learning in the American Rescue Plan so that we could finally provide all children in Boston and across the Commonwealth with the technology and tools to set them up for success,” said Markey. “I’m incredibly proud that Massachusetts has now received $62.5 million from this program to date. We will ensure that every student can continue their studies during the pandemic and beyond by providing laptops and Wifi modems, and make sure the ‘homework gap’ does not grow into a damaging learning and opportunity gap for our children, particularly those who live in communities of color, low-income households, and rural areas.”
“Increasing equity and accessibility to essential educational resources remains a top priority for BPS,” said Boston Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Brenda Cassellius. “I am grateful to Mayor Wu for her continued commitment to our BPS students and educators, and for delivering on this $12 million investment to provide $400 per teacher and student. This funding will be used to integrate technology into the classroom and extend learning at home, moving us one step closer to closing the digital divide and providing greater opportunity and access to all of our students.”
Shira Laucharoen is a reporter based in Boston. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In the past she has written for Sampan newspaper, The Somerville Times, Scout Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WBUR.