Access to reliable connectivity causes a divide between youth who have access and those who do not. Currently, 35% of low-income households lack any access to broadband service at home. This leads to an issue known as the “homework gap” among students who lack proper internet access.
To close this gap, US Cellular has launched the After School Access Project, a program that provides free mobile hotspots and service to nonprofits that support youth after the school day has ended and provides safe internet access for homework and education. This is an expansion of previous hotspot donations the company provided to address connectivity needs during the pandemic.
Seeing the greater need, US Cellular has pledged to donate up to $13 million in hotspots and service to connect up to 50,000 youth in 2022. Eligible 501c3 nonprofit organizations are encouraged to apply by going to afterschoolaccessproject.com.
“When we heard the stories of youth who couldn’t get access to reliable internet for their schoolwork, we knew we had to act,” said Monique Moore, US Cellular’s director of sales for west Iowa. “Connecting people and communities is our mission. The After School Access Project is just one way that we’re helping ensure students have the reliable access they need to grow and pursue their dreams.”
Hotspots are stand-alone Wi-Fi networks that can connect several devices at once wirelessly and have proven to be a vital tool for youth to access the internet, study and complete homework. In 2021, US Cellular donated 2,800 hotspots and service to 33 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, a $2.6 million investment. Clubs have used them to boost their connectivity on site and loaned the devices out to youth and their families to support reliable access at home.
Nonprofit organizations who meet the following criteria are welcomed to apply:
Certified 501c3 nonprofit organizations
Operate within US Cellular’s service area
Focused on kindergarten through 12th grade
Not a school or government entity
Hotspot devices will be shipped to nonprofit organizations within six to eight weeks of an approved, completed application.
“Closing the digital divide will require the involvement of many organizations, and that is why we encourage nonprofits working with youth in after school programs to apply and use this resource to enhance the important work they are already doing,” Moore said.
US Cellular is focused on addressing gaps in STEM education and is committed to connecting more than 200,000 of tomorrow’s innovators each year with the resources they need today to help shape future opportunities. Since 2009, US Cellular has donated nearly $21.4 million along with countless experiences and technology items to nonprofit organizations across the country.
For more information about US Cellular’s corporate social responsibility initiatives, please go to https://newsroom.uscellular.com/community/