One Economy, Cricket Communications, Google and Qualcomm (News - Alert) have teamed up with the San Diego County Office of Education and Computers 2 SD Kids to provide refurbished computers and wireless Internet to 220 families participating in the Migrant Education program throughout San Diego County, as part of Project Unlimited Access.
Federally funded and authorized via the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, the Migrant Education program has been designed to provide supplementary educational and support services via collaboration with school districts and other community agencies to maximize the potential of migrant students.
The alliance partners are helping bridge the digital divide for this population of students. E. Sheli Silva, executive director of the Migrant Education Program for San Diego County said that without the opportunity provided by the alliance partners, these students would have no means to access this wonderful resource.
Each district works closely with parents and designs its own plan of services, aiming to provide an effective program possible to ensure equitable opportunities and increase graduation rates.
Project Unlimited Access has received grant from Qualcomm’s Wireless Reach initiative. Also, One Economy, Cricket Communications (News - Alert), Google, Computers 2 SD Kids and the San Diego County Office of Education have made contributions. The grant and contributions have helped in providing a total of 470 families throughout San Diego County with computers and wireless Internet service.
This public-private effort is the final of three phases for Project Unlimited Access. The first phase was conducted with low-income families in Washington, D.C. The two final phases are San Diego-based projects, the first of which was aiding underserved families who have elementary or middle school students enrolled within the Santee school district.
The second phase of the San Diego rollout has focused on migrant students.
Noting that students with only limited access to the Internet are disadvantaged compared to those who have the means to access the Internet anywhere and anytime, Kristin Atkins, director for Qualcomm Government Affairs said this project demonstrates the benefits of 21st century technology and the importance of ensuring it is made available to everyone.
As part of the project, Cricket is providing broadband modems and service as part of its Cricket Broadband service, which offers unlimited high-speed wireless Internet access at an affordable flat rate. Company officials said that the service enables customers to send e-mail, surf the Web and download music all from their laptop or desktop computer.
Moreover, this connectivity provides families and students with the ability to continue to access Migrant Education programs and services such as: conducting research for school assignments; obtaining information about universities, scholarships and jobs; submitting applications; taking SAT test preparation lessons; and accessing district portals for parent information.
Intersession and summer programs can also be accessed through this program. These programs include academic tutoring; preschool readiness; Cyber High for making up credit deficiencies; Reading Is Fundamental (RIF); and Parent Education programs.
“Our broadband product has enabled Cricket to partner with like-minded organizations across the country to attack the Digital Divide by bringing technology and access to the people who need it most, and we are happy to report that we're helping to raise the level of digital literacy among the recipients,” said Bill Ingram, senior vice president of strategy at Cricket Communications.
In addition to students, this initiative also provides the benefits of computers and Internet service to family members. It’s seen that parent education is a key component to student success. Both the Santee School District and the Migrant Education program are expected to use this access in their technology-based educational initiatives, which include parent training and parent engagement programs.
Alan Greenlee, vice president of national programs at One Economy, said that through this partnership, regardless of how often families move, students and parents can continue to receive online resources and actively engage with teachers to increase educational outcomes.
Anshu Shrivastava is a contributing editor for TMCnet. To read more of Anshu’s articles, please visit her columnist page.
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Edited by Jamie Epstein