During a meeting of the Children and Youth Cabinet this week, First Lady Casey DeSantis announced a statewide partnership with T-Mobile to provide more than 600,000 Florida families 100GB of internet per year over the next five years.
This partnership seeks to ensure Florida families have internet access to supplement the hard work achieved in the classroom and coincides with T-Mobile’s Project 10Million. Project 10Million is a national campaign to increase internet connectivity to millions of student households at no cost to them by offering free wireless hotspots and free high-speed data with the goal of making it available to Florida K-12 students who participate in the national school lunch program for low-income families.
“This underscores the importance of harnessing the private sector to ensure our children can learn, grow and achieve their God-given potential. If a student does not have access to technology or internet connectivity necessary for homework, it’s a disservice to their educational journey. With this partnership, we are closing the achievement gap between all children, and I thank T-Mobile for their commitment to Florida students,” said DeSantis on Tuesday.
“This is yet another opportunity to level the playing field and provide additional educational supports for Florida students,” said Florida Education Commissioner Richard Corcoran. “A rising tide lifts all boats, and more students will have the opportunity to enrich the critical skills they learn in the classroom, at home.”
“Even before the pandemic, more than 9 million of America’s 56 million households with children did not have access to reliable internet and could not complete after-school assignments. This critical ‘homework gap’ can have negative impacts on student outcomes,” said Peter Vargas, the director of public sector and education of the South Region for T-Mobile. “We are proud to join the state in our efforts to best support the needs of Florida students. We thank First Lady Casey DeSantis for her tireless commitment to Florida students, and are happy to provide Florida students with equitable access to reliable internet.”
School administrators can apply for the program by providing ZIP codes for students that participate in the school lunch program. The schools then distribute the hotspots and devices, with T-Mobile providing assistance for setup and technical support.