Natomas Unified launched an innovative project tonight to attack the digital divide by paying families’ bills for new Internet subscribers to receive high-speed access at home for an entire year.
Jefferson School families got the program kick-started tonight with signups at the campus Harvest Festival. Other startup events will be held in coming weeks as NUSD plans to serve up to 1,000 families district-wide.
Josie Martinez, one of the first to apply, characterized NUSD’s program as an offer you can’t turn down. “This is free for a whole year,” she said. “Natomas Unified is picking up the bill, and I’m so thankful for that.”
Martinez said she once subscribed to the Internet, but rate hikes forced her to quit. “I had to either pay my bills or let go of the Internet,” she said. “I figured, well, I’m going to have to let go because I have a 6-year-old and I’ve got to raise him.”
Home access to the Internet sure beats trying to take your child to the library, particularly on a rainy night, and particularly for families lacking transportation, Martinez said.
Parent Brene Ely said that she, too, greatly appreciates NUSD’s new program, which will will allow her 4-year-old son to access online apps, such as ABC Mouse, at home.
Through its investment, NUSD is going to bat for kids of all ages whose online learning stops once the final school bell rings each day.
Many new textbooks, probably most, have online components that direct students to websites for explanatory or supplemental information. Home access no longer is a luxury, it’s becoming a necessity for a 21st century education.
NUSD is partnering with Comcast in the free-to-families Internet program. The cable company offers online access for $9.95 to families of limited income through its “Internet Essentials” program. NUSD is stepping up and paying that tab, for up to 1,000 families district-wide, for an entire year.
“Having access to the Internet is vital to students’ success, for parents to monitor their homework, for kids to be able to get online help and support, and to be able to communicate with classmates and their teacher,” Board of Trustees President Scott Dosick said.
“This is a vital tool,” Dosick added. “It’s part of the package of tools that NUSD provides to make sure our kids have the opportunity to progress and graduate as college and career ready global citizens.”
All NUSD families are eligible to sign up, provided they do not currently receive Internet service at home or owe Comcast money from service over the past year. Additional NUSD kickoff events will be announced soon.