Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools has 400 free hotspots remaining for high school students who don’t have internet connections at home, according a community activist involved with the program.
The palm-size devices are part of the nationwide Sprint 1 Million Project, which aims to distribute 1 million hotspot devices to students whose families can’t afford broadband connections.
CMS was approved for 20,000 devices over five years, or 4,000 per year. More than 400 of those year-one devices are still unclaimed, said J’Tanya Adams of EveryoneOn, who worked with Sprint to initiate the CMS program. (EveryoneOn estimates that 32 percent of U.S. households don’t have broadband connections.)
“Anything that doesn’t get distributed by the end of this month (January 2017) will then return back to Sprint,” she said. “We’ve got great need, so the last thing we want to do is return them.”
Adams said a single hotspot device can connect up to five computers. Students may keep them for five year, or until they graduate.
“Some of our kids in Title 1 schools are transient kids; they never live in one place long,” she said, “so to connect wired lines is a bit more challenging. So the hotspots are perfect.”
Adams said a separate programs for CMS students — E2D, or Eliminate the Digital Divide – allows students who need them to purchase refurbished laptops for $60.
Students interested in getting a free hotspot may contact their school principal or their school’s tech facilitator, or they can email Jessica Smith of CMS at firstname.lastname@example.org.