Sprint Will Give Away 1 Million Internet-Connected Devices To Disadvantaged Students

Computers may seem ubiquitous in 2016. Technology is particularly important in the classroom, however, many students cannot afford computers. Sprint and the Sprint Foundation have started the multi-year 1Million Project that aims to provide free mobile devices and high-speed wireless internet to one million economically disadvantaged high school students.

Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure remarked, “Education is the foundation for our society to prosper, and the internet is an incredibly powerful tool for learning. But it’s a huge problem in America that we have 5 million households with children that lack internet connections…. All of us at Sprint are committed to changing this by providing 1 million students in need with free devices and free wireless connections.”

1million project

According to the Pew Research Center, five million American households with school-age children do not have broadband access. Seventy percent of teachers assign homework that requires the internet and are required by their school districts or state governments to do so. This divide leads to the "homework gap” in which low-income students are at an disadvantage because they do not have the tools needed to complete homework, communicate with teachers, or apply for jobs, scholarships, or colleges. The lack of internet also leads to a decrease in parent participation.

Sprint will work alongside non-profits such as EveryoneOn and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance in order to recruit community organizations like schools, libraries, and public-housing authorities. These local organizations will deliver the devices and activate the mobile internet service.

Sprint, however, will not be giving the same device to everyone. They will work with the local groups in order to determine the best devices for the communities’ needs. Students will receive either a free smartphone, tablet, laptop or hotspot device and 3GB of high-speed LTE data per month. Unlimited data will be available at 2G speeds if a student’s usage exceeds the 3GB a month. Students who receive smartphones will also be allowed unlimited domestic calls and texts.

Sprint will introduce the program to roughly ten markets starting January 2017. It wants to refine the project before a nationwide rollout during the 2017-2018 school year. Schools and community organizations that would like to participate can enroll online here.