Access to reliable connectivity causes a divide between youth who have access and those who do not. Currently, 35% of low-income households lack any access to broadband service at home. This leads to an issue known as the “homework gap” among students who lack proper internet access. To close this gap, UScellular has launched the After School Access Project, a program that provides free mobile hotspots and service to nonprofits that support youth after the school day has ended and provides safe internet access for homework and education. This is an expansion of previous hotspot donations the company provided to address connectivity needs during the pandemic.
Seeing the greater need, the company has pledged to donate up to $13 million in hotspots and service in 2022.
“When we heard the stories of youth who couldn’t get access to reliable internet for their schoolwork, we knew we had to act,” said Laurent C. Therivel, president and CEO of UScellular. “Connecting people and communities is our mission and the After School Access Project is just one way that we’re helping ensure students have the reliable access they need to grow and pursue their dreams.”
To help provide equitable learning and keep local youth connected, UScellular has donated wireless hotspots and two years of service to the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley and Women Are Dreamers Too. The organizations will use the hotspots to boost their connectivity onsite and will loan the devices to youth and their families to support reliable access at home.
Hotspots are stand-alone Wi-Fi networks that can connect several devices at once wirelessly and have proven to be a vital tool for youth to access the internet, study and complete homework. To date in 2021, UScellular has donated 2,800 hotspots and service to 33 Boys & Girls Clubs across the country, a $2.6 million investment.
“The success of students in the communities we serve is important to us at UScellular,” said Thomas White, director of sales for East Tennessee. “Connecting people and communities is our mission and the After School Access Project is just one way that we’re helping ensure students have the reliable access they need to grow and pursue their dreams.”
Non-profit organizations who meet the following criteria are welcome to apply:
- Certified 501(c)(3) nonprofit
- Operate within UScellular’s service area
- Focused on kindergarten through 12th grade
- Not a school or government entity
Hotspot devices will be shipped to nonprofits within six to eight weeks of an approved, completed application. Nonprofits can apply at afterschoolaccessproject.com.
“Closing the digital divide will require the involvement of many organizations and that is why we encourage nonprofits working with youth in afterschool programs to apply and use this resource to enhance the important work they are already doing,” Therivel said.
UScellular is focused on addressing gaps in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education and is committed to connecting more than 200,000 of tomorrow’s innovators each year with the resources they need today to help shape future opportunities. Since 2009, UScellular has donated more than $20.8 million along with countless experiences and technology items to nonprofits across the country. For more information about UScellular’s corporate social responsibility initiatives, visit uscellular.com/get-to-know-us/community-outreach
UScellular is the fourth-largest full-service wireless carrier in the United States, providing national network coverage and industry-leading innovations designed to elevate the customer experience. The Chicago-based carrier provides a strong, reliable network supported by the latest technology and offers a wide range of communication services that enhance consumers’ lives, increase the competitiveness of local businesses and improve the efficiency of government operations. To learn more about UScellular, visit one of its retail stores or www.uscellular.com. To get the latest news, visit newsroom.uscellular.com. Connect with UScellular on social media at facebook.com/uscellular, twitter.com/uscellular, instagram.com/uscellular, YouTube.com/uscellularcorp and linkedin.com/company/uscellular.