CAPITAL REGION — As students and teachers cross the threshold from a full year of remote learning and begin to address the learning loss resulting from it, AT&T and leading national nonprofit Connected Nation are continuing work to put the connectivity solutions vital to education into the hands of those who need it most.
AT&T has announced that it has given two local Capital Region organizations, the Albany Fund for Education and The Salvation Army of Saratoga Springs, 1,000 free wireless hotspots as well as free internet connectivity for one year. Each organization has received 500 hotspots with free connectivity. They are part of more than 100 organizations and school districts that will benefit from a $10 million commitment from AT&T, first announced last year, to provide free internet subscriptions and wireless hotspots to 35,000 vulnerable students across the country.
The Albany Fund for Education and The Salvation Army of Saratoga Springs will distribute the hotspots to under-resourced students across the Capital Region. The hotspots come at a critical time for many students – the final months of the school year – with many students in remote or hybrid learning, and ahead of summer break, where home connectivity can be used to catch up from learning loss caused by the pandemic. Students will have the opportunity to use the free connectivity to prepare for the 2021-2022 school year and will have the connectivity available when school begins in the fall to assist with homework and other learning opportunities to position them for educational success.
An estimated 17 million K-12 students nationwide and approximately 11,000 students in the Capital Region currently lack access to the connectivity and devices required for successful online learning. While this homework gap is not new, the pandemic has heightened the challenges – most acutely in rural and under-resourced neighborhoods, where the effects of the pandemic have disproportionately impacted 1 in 3 students of color, students with disabilities, and roughly 10 percent of all public school teachers.
The Salvation Army of Saratoga Springs will distribute the 500 hotspots with free wireless connectivity they are receiving from AT&T to assist with the issues many students and families face with remote education and access to the internet for school. The organization will distribute the hotspots directly to families across Glens Falls, Schenectady, Troy, Albany, Gloversville, and Saratoga Springs. Providing direct access to the internet for education will allow children to set the foundation for a better, more secure future. Since the start of COVID-19, The Salvation Army of Saratoga Springs has helped serve 61,951 meals and 175,000 pounds of food, has assisted more than 50 families with paying rent and utilities, and has continued to find ways to help those in need.
In addition to contributions to organizations like the Albany Fund for Education and The Salvation Army of Saratoga Springs, AT&T is expanding wireless affordability and flexibility for all schools in its service with unlimited wireless data plans that include content filtering services to support online safety protocols. Learn more at www.att.com/closethegap.