Sprint to connect 50,000 students in White House program

02/05/2014 11:35 AM

02/05/2014 11:35 AM

Sprint Corp. will provide free wireless broadband service to 50,000 students nationwide under a program President Barack Obama mentioned in the State of the Union address last week.

Starting Sept. 1, the Overland Park-based wireless company will provide the connections to low-income students in elementary and secondary schools for four years, an announcement said.

“This initiative will build on the efforts of today’s most innovative tech companies to help make our nation’s children better students, problem solvers, creative thinkers, and future leaders, while also training teachers to effectively use mobile technologies to improve student outcomes and prepare them for a competitive workforce,” Sprint chief executive Dan Hesse said in the company’s announcement.

Hesse will participate in a kick-off event Tuesday with President Obama, U.S. secretary of education Arne Duncan, Sprint chairman Masayoshi Son and officials from other companies. Son also is chief executive of Tokyo-based SoftBank Corp., which owns 80 percent of Sprint.

The program is part of the White House’s ConnectED effort to combine public and private resources behind technology in classrooms.

Obama mentioned that Apple, Microsoft, Sprint and Verizon would make a “down payment” toward his pledge to bring broadband service to 20 million students in more than 15,000 schools.

Details of Sprint’s involvement were not included in the announcement, but the company has provided digital literacy and Internet safety skills to students and parents through its Project Connect Program.

For example, the program awarded a $75,000 grant to the technology program at Académie Lafayette, a French language immersion school in Kansas City. It also provides $24 million in free wireless services and wireless devices each year to thousands of schools.

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