Enabling Internet Access in Kansas City: Sprint Expands 1 Million Project Foundation

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Sprint CEO Michel Combes and the 1Million Project Foundation has announced new, significant investments to support Kansas City area high school students who lack home internet access and struggle to keep up with their peers.

Combes outlined a drastic expansion of the 1Million Project Foundation’s (1MPF) effort to give free devices and internet access to every high schooler in the KC Metro who does not have reliable broadband service at home. The program will expand locally from four districts to 17, and will nearly double the number of KC area student participants to a total of 6,400.

At an event hosted by Kansas City Public Schools at Central Academy of Excellence attended by Kansas City Mayor Sly James and superintendents representing ten KC area school districts, Combes also offered details on Sprint and the 1Million Project Foundation’s partnership with Best Buy to open a Teen Tech Center in the area to provide local teens with access to free technology and training needed for future success.

“Education is the foundation for success in life, and not having access to the internet when you go home each day from school can greatly hinder a student’s ability to complete homework, conduct research, and apply for jobs and college admission,” said Combes.

“Sprint is a company that cares deeply about its customers and communities, and that is why we are helping low-income students here in Kansas City by supporting the 1Million Project and joining forces with Best Buy. The 1Million Project’s mission is to connect 1 million high school students nationwide, and this morning – right here in our hometown – marks an important milestone on that journey.”

Sprint first launched the 1Million Project Foundation in August 2017. During the 2017-2018 school year, the 1Million Project served 113,000 students nationwide, and this school year, an additional 150,000 students will receive a free mobile device and free internet access. The initiative helps to address the homework gap that affects high school students living in the more than 5 million households across the country lacking high-speed internet access.

In Kansas City, MO, approximately 24% of households do not have internet access, and that number climbs to nearly 33% in Kansas City, KS. Last school year, the foundation worked with four local school districts to help 3,400 students by providing them the essential digital tools they need to access the internet anywhere, anytime just as most of their classmates do. With the expansion announced today, 13 new school districts and 3,000 additional students will join. KC Area 1Million Project Foundation school districts include (* indicates new participants):

•Belton School District #124*
•Blue Springs R-IV School District*
•Blue Valley School District*
•Center School District #58*
•Grandview C-4 School District
•Hickman Mills C-1 School District
•Independence School District
•Kansas City, KS Public Schools*
•Kansas City Public Schools
•Lathrop R-II School District*
•Liberty 53 School District*
•North Kansas City Schools*
•Ottawa Unified School District 290*
•Rich Hill R-IV School District*
•Spring Hill School District*
•Tonganoxie Unified School District 464*
•Turner Unified School District #202*

Additional interested Metro-area schools can apply online for the program.

“Investing in the education of Kansas City’s children is fundamental to the economic development of our city,” said Mayor James. “Equipping our students with the digital tools required to be successful in today’s globalized world is absolutely essential to preparing them to be productive citizens in the first-class workforce of tomorrow.”

“Thanks to Sprint and the Sprint Foundation, we’ve been able to provide WiFi internet access for hundreds of KCPS students. And we are extremely grateful to everyone who has made this possible,” said KCPS

Superintendent Mark Bedell. “We must address the needs of the entire family when it comes to digital literacy. That’s why our community and business partnerships like this one are so important.”

Best Buy plans to build new Teen Tech Centers in seven cities across the country. Sprint and the 1Million Project Foundation will proudly sponsor the center in Kansas City. Best Buy will build the center and local nonprofits will be invited to apply to house and operate it. The Teen Tech Centers provide a safe space for teens in underserved areas to drop in after school and have access to the best technology while they do their homework and learn new things like photography and robotics.

Sprint and the 1Million Project Foundation will also team with Best Buy and the Clubhouse Network to develop Kansas City’s first Best Buy Teen Tech Center. The Center will provide young people from underserved communities with free hands-on, year-round tech access and education in an after-school setting, through activities like 3D printing, coding, photography, video production and more.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Sprint and the 1Million Project Foundation to provide the youth of Kansas City with access to the training and tools they need to further their education and prepare for tech-reliant careers,” said Andrea Wood, Head of Social Impact at Best Buy. “Kansas City joins a growing national network of locally-based centers that will expand to 60 locations across the U.S., Canada and Mexico by 2020.”


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