Sprint employees were at Central Academy of Excellence Wednesday to pass out free wireless hotspots to low-income high school students who don’t have internet access at home.
Freshman Nia Abson was one of the first students to receive a device with a data plan.
“Like, I couldn’t get my work done, and then I’d be failing classes,” Abson says. “I’d just be like, ‘Mom, I need internet.’”
Mark Bedell says he heard from countless Kansas City Public Schools students about the lack of connectivity when he visited schools during his first 100 days as superintendent.
“We don’t have access in the urban core to internet,” Bedell says. “So my kids have laptops, but what good does it serve them if they’re not able to take advantage of that resource at home?”
Sprint spokesman Doug Michelman says an estimated 5 million U.S. families with school-age children don’t have access to broadband.
“High school students who don’t have internet access at home are just at a terrible disadvantage when asked to complete their schoolwork and compete,” Michelman says.
Michelman says the Kansas City-based Sprint chose Central as a test site for the company’s 1Million initiative, which it will roll out nationwide next year.
Elle Moxley covers Missouri schools and politics for KCUR. You can reach her on Twitter @ellemoxley.