The following is a company-submitted press release and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of School Planning & Management magazine.

Sprint Provides Free Wireless Devices and Service to 1 Million Disadvantaged Students

Greensboro, N.C. — Sprint 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.

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 that 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.

 Marcelo Claure, Sprint CEO, 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.

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. For more information visit sprint.com/goodworks.

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