Kansas City Public Schools are taking part in a national pilot of Sprint’s 1 Million Project to help connect students who lack internet service at home.
Sprint named five school districts around the country, five additional high schools, and an Illinois nonprofit organization that are taking part in the pilot.
Eligible students at each will receive a free smartphone, tablet or hotspot device and wireless data service at LTE data speeds as part of the program. The free service provides 3 gigabytes of high-speed data each month and additional data at lower 2G speeds beyond that.
The Overland Park-based wireless company is providing the free service for the 1 Million Project through the Sprint Foundation.
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Sprint said there are 5 million students nationwide that lack Internet connections at home. It creates what the company calls a “homework gap.”
The pilot begins in January. Sprint said it hopes to learn how students’ needs vary from city to city, how to allocate resources to schools and other organizations, and how to communicate with those in the program.
A nationwide rollout of the 1 Million Project is set to begin with the 2017-18 school year. The program hopes to connect 500,000 students a year for five years.
Applications are open online for schools, public housing authorities and nonprofit groups to participate.
The 1 Million Project seeks financial support at Sprint stores. It also seeks old phones and other devices that will be refurbished and sold to further fund the program. Devices can be donated online and at Sprint stores.