Today I had the great privilege to join the White House Conference and the Sprint Foundation had an On-The-Record Press call to preview the President Obama’s Town Hall in Greensboro, North Carolina. The call also included new public and private sector commitments in support of the My Brother’s Keeper initiative and the 1Million Project initiative. The calls main speakers were Broderick Johnson, Assistant to the President and Chair of My Brother’s Keeper, Marcelo Claure, CEO of Sprint, Art Peck, CEO of Gap, Inc., and Wendell Davis, and MBK Durham.
After previewing the President’s Town Hall in Greensboro, North Carolina they discussed My Brother’s Keeper initiative and the 1Million Project initiative. The 1Million Project is the largest corporate initiative in U.S. history to bridge the digital divide and help close the “Homework Gap” for students lacking home internet access. My Brother’s Keeper is a public-private partnership of the United States Federal Government to promote intervention by civic leaders in the lives of young men of color to address their unique challenges and to promote racial justice.
I felt very lucky to be included in this discussion learning about My Brother’s Keeper initiative and the 1Million Project initiative. It is great to hear all the initiatives and programs for underprivileged children, low income homes and for boys and young men of color.
Below is the official press release from The Sprint foundation and the White House:
GREENSBORO, N.C. – October 11, 2016 – Sprint (NYSE: S) and the Sprint Foundation will help change the lives of 1 million high school students by giving them opportunities to reach their full potential. The 1Million Project is a multiyear initiative to offer free mobile devices and free high-speed wireless internet connectivity to 1 million low-income, U.S. high school students lacking a reliable source of internet access at home.
The expansive new program will help eliminate the “Homework Gap” that puts low-income students at a major disadvantage because they don’t have ready access to the internet needed for completing homework, communicating with teachers, or applying for jobs, scholarships or college.
“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. Those kids have a huge disadvantage and we are failing them. All of us at Sprint are committed to changing this by providing 1 million students in need with free devices and free wireless connections.”
Marcelo Claure, Sprint CEO
Pew Research Center reports that 5 million U.S. families with school-aged children do not have broadband access at home. Low-income homes with children are four times more likely to be without broadband than middle- or upper-income households. Their chances for success are significantly reduced because at least 70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires web access, based on a report by the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Task Force. Nearly two-thirds of students used the internet at home to complete their homework and school-related activities. The digital divide also is an obstacle to parent engagement. Many schools use online grading systems, requiring parents to rely on the internet for staying informed of their child’s academic progress.
Sprint will work with non-profit agencies including EveryoneOn and My Brother’s Keeper Alliance which will help to recruit community organizations – schools, libraries, public-housing authorities, and non-profits. These program members will execute locally, deliver the devices, and activate the mobile internet service that participating students will be able to access virtually whenever and wherever they need it (while on the Sprint network) for up to four years in high school.
Sprint and the Sprint Foundation also will work closely with these program members to determine the best device solution for local students. Each student may receive either a free smartphone, tablet, laptop or hotspot device and 3GB of high-speed LTE data per month. Unlimited data is available at 2G speeds if usage exceeds 3GB in a month. Those who receive a smartphone can use it as a hotspot and for unlimited domestic calls and texts while on the Sprint network.
The 1Million Project will help create opportunities for these high school students to participate in the digital world and transform their lives. Sprint was inspired by President Obama’s ConnectED and My Brother’s Keeper initiatives, and, with the 1Million Project, is building on its experience with those initiatives to accelerate solutions to address this problem. ConnectED is a public and private sector effort to get technology into classrooms. In 2014, Sprint announced a commitment to provide wireless broadband to 50,000 K-12 students in low-income school districts. Claure serves on the board of directors for My Brother’s Keeper Alliance, a non-profit organization whose vision is to make the American Dream available to all boys and young men of color.
“We’re excited that Sprint has committed to provide 1 million disadvantaged high school students with four years of free devices and connectivity. This will make a huge difference in their lives, and will help support the President’s ConnectED and My Brother’s Keeper Initiatives.”
Jeff Zients, Director of the National Economic Council, The White House
“Through our participation in ConnectED, we heard loud and clear that students need devices and internet access to complete their homework. Sprint’s 1Million Project is an end-to-end solution that enables 1 million low-income youth to keep learning after they leave the classroom.”
Marcelo Claure, Sprint CEO
Claure is a member of the 2016 class of the Henry Crown Fellowship program, which focuses on developing the next generation of community-spirited leaders. Each participant drives a leadership venture that puts the Fellowship’s principles into action. The 1Million Project is consistent with these principles.
Sprint also recognizes its role and responsibility to give back to communities. Doing good is also good business and Sprint has designed the 1Million Project to minimize cost to the company and maximize value to students in need. As a result, the overall cost to Sprint is not substantial.
To support the 1Million Project, Sprint and the Sprint Foundation will receive donations from device manufacturers and raise funds through special events, donation drives and other activities. This plan engages its strong and passionate employee and customer base and thousands of company-owned, dealer and national retail partner stores across the country.
“The 1Million Project is a powerful example of the role that business must play in society today to address our most pressing problems. Increasingly, people are seeking to do business with companies committed to creating social, as well as shareholder value. Brands that create social value by making a meaningful difference in people’s lives are in a stronger position to attract new customers, recruit and retain better employees, and build stronger ties to their communities.”
Marcelo Claure, Sprint CEO
Beginning in January 2017, Sprint, in conjunction with the Sprint Foundation, will pilot the program in seven to 10 markets. The pilots across several markets and community partners will provide a better understanding of the varying needs of students and the resources they require to be successful. The program can be refined before a nationwide rollout planned for the start of the 2017-18 school year.
“The nation’s tremendous progress in connecting America’s schools to the internet is transforming teaching and learning every day in classrooms around the country. Sprint’s 1Million Project will extend the promise of digital learning beyond the classroom at an unprecedented scale – helping deliver on America’s promise to provide equal access to educational opportunity for all students.”
Evan Marwell, Founder & CEO, EducationSuperHighway
As part of the comprehensive program, www.sprint.com/1millionproject will feature details, updates and additional information for those who want to get involved. U.S. schools and community organizations interested in learning more about the program or participating in the pilot should apply online. The company will also share 1Million Project news on Sprint’s social media channels using the hashtag #1MillionProject.
“My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (MBK Alliance) is proud to be a partner on Sprint’s 1Million Project to provide students essential tools for 21st century success. As MBK Alliance works to expand pathways to success for boys and young men of color, we applaud Sprint and MBK Alliance Board Member Marcelo Claure for leading the way and filling critical gaps for our nation’s youth. The 1Million Project will not only unlock latent talent and potential in one million young people, but will also serve as a model of innovative private sector support for the next generation – our nation’s future leaders, employees, and consumers. MBK Alliance commends Sprint for this demonstration of our shared belief that “doing good is good business” and are thrilled to be a partner in bringing this initiative to life in 2017.”
Blair Taylor, Chief Executive Officer, My Brother’s Keeper Alliance
“Since 2012, EveryoneOn has connected, with the help of public and private stakeholders, more than 300,000 people in United States to low-cost home Internet service, devices, and digital literacy training. We believe that Sprint’s 1Million Project is a worthy step forward in support of our mission to end the digital divide and that efforts like this are an important down payment for digital inclusion for youth and their families. In short, we believe that all people in America should be afforded the opportunity that the Internet brings, not just those that can afford it.”
Chike Aguh, Chief Executive Officer, EveryoneOn
“SETDA commends Sprint Corporation for this generous effort to help close the digital divide. As content shifts from print to digital, and students prepare for college and careers in the digital age, seamless internet access both in and outside of school is no longer a perk – it is a necessity, Students must be able to rely on access, particularly at home to leverage digital resources, create content and connect with teachers and their peers.”
Christine Fox, Deputy Executive Director, State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA)
“The Kansas City Public Library is excited to endorse the new Sprint program to offer free data, email, and text to disadvantaged students in our community. We intend to be a participant and sponsor of the program and look to expand its reach in partnership with the Kansas City School District and the City of Kansas City. We are proud of our hometown company Sprint for producing a program that could become a model nationwide for closing the homework gap.”
Crosby Kemper III, Director, Kansas City Public Library
“Sprint has been an excellent partner to Community High School District 99 in closing the homework gap caused by lack of Internet access at home. Last year we closed the device gap with a 1:1 program and this year Sprint and the ConnectEd program have allowed us to ensure that 100% of our students have an option for access to Internet when away from school. Assuring that students have a connected device allows us the certainty that every student has access to the world’s information and creates an equal foundation of resources. Guaranteeing access to today’s basic tools for communication, collaboration, and creativity creates opportunities by opening pathways to possibilities.”
Dr. Hank Thiele, Superintendent, Community High School District 99, Chicago, Illinois