Affordable internet service continues to be a concern for many low-income families in Arizona’s urban and suburban areas who want access at home to help their students succeed in school.
“We know that when families are connected to the internet, they’re also connected to the entire world of opportunity: information, community and the chance to learn,” said Lawrence Robinson, a governing board member for Roosevelt Elementary School District, which serves more than 9,630 students in south Phoenix.
Several years ago, 21 percent of Americans said they did not have broadband internet access because they just were not interested in it. Now 43 percent say the high monthly cost is the greatest barrier, said Lee Rainie, director of Internet, science and technology research for Pew Research Center, in his presentation “Digital Divides 2016” in mid-July.
Some Arizona parents who don’t have home internet access work around it to help their children with their homework, research and class projects.
“I used to have to take my children to the library and wait for a computer to do their reading and their homework,” Davis said. “It was very hectic for me and difficult for them too.”
Many Arizona school districts have found ways to partner with local companies and nonprofits to help their students get affordable, reliable internet access at home.
A partnership between Roosevelt Elementary School District in Maricopa County, Cox Communication’s Connect2Compete and PetSmart Foundation has helped many low-income students and their families access affordable devices and broadband internet at home, Robinson said.
“Fighting to give our students and families the tools they most certainly need to succeed outside the classroom will promote success within the classroom,” Robinson said.
National program helps families find affordable Internet
This year, Cox Communications said that about 30,600 Arizona students qualify for low-cost internet access through national nonprofit EveryoneOn’s Connect2Compete program, according to an Arizona Daily Star article.
Connect2Compete partners with 300 community organizations, leaders and agencies in 18 states. Partners include the nation’s leading internet service providers to offer affordable service, hardware and software manufacturers, digital content creators to provide devices and programs and more than 10,000 libraries, nonprofits and businesses to provide affordable technology and training.
Video: Cox Communication’s Connect2Compete
Some of the internet service providers that are part of Connect2Compete are Cox Communications, Comcast, SuddenLink, CableOne, FreedomPop, Basic-Internet.com, Mediacom, Wilco, Bright House, Spring, Mobile Citizen and Mobile Beacon.
Nationwide, about 250,000 students could be positively impacted by this program, said Andrea Katsenes, director of media and public relations for Cox Communications, a founding partner for Connect2Compete.
Since 2012, Cox Communications Connect2Compete has offered affordable internet service for as little as $9.95 a month plus tax to students and families that qualify for the National School Lunch Program.
This year, Cox Communications will host up to 200 events across the nation and will sign up about 100,000 low-income Americans for the program.
Connect2Compete helps families connect
For Davis and her children having Cox Communications Connect2Compete at home has been a great help.
“Since having the internet at home, we can take turns and do the reading and homework that each student needs to do,” Davis said.
The service has really made a difference for Davis’ son who has a hearing disability and is delayed in his learning.
“The Internet access at home has been life changing for him, as he can read right off the Internet,” Davis said. “It’s been a blessing in my life and made keeping up with school work so much easier.”
The program is supported by local officials including Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, and “this year, Connect2Compete was extended eligibility to service families living in Housing and Urban Development communities,” Katsenes said.
Cox Communications Connect2Compete has partnered with many Arizona schools, including those in Roosevelt Elementary School District, to provide affordable internet accent access and the equipment students need to supplement their education, Katsenes said.
“Any student attending school in 2016 will most certainly enter a world where they need to be adept at navigating the internet and familiar with technology,” Robinson said.
Robinson said he’s proud of what Cox Communications and PetSmart Foundation have done to help Roosevelt’s students.
“Since the launch of the program, we have made a significant impact in bringing internet access to families in need in the community we serve,” Katsenes said.