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Sprint gives hotspot devices, internet access to 500 Kansas City students

Kansas City Superintendent Mark Bedell (second from left) said Sprint’s 1Million Project would help “close the opportunity gap in the Kansas City Public Schools.” At center is the project’s leader, Sprint’s Doug Michelman. The effort gave home internet access to 500 Kansas City students.
Kansas City Superintendent Mark Bedell (second from left) said Sprint’s 1Million Project would help “close the opportunity gap in the Kansas City Public Schools.” At center is the project’s leader, Sprint’s Doug Michelman. The effort gave home internet access to 500 Kansas City students. Kansas City Public Schools

As part of a national pilot program, Sprint is providing internet hotspots to some 500 high school students in the Kansas City district, giving them internet connectivity wherever they go.

The communications services company on Wednesday gave about 20 students at Lincoln College Preparatory Academy devices with 3 gigabytes of high-speed LTE data per month as part of its 1Million Project initiative. Lincoln was the last of Kansas City Public Schools’ eight high schools to receive the devices from Sprint.

“KCPS provides every high school student with a laptop, but when some go home, they aren’t able to connect. The laptops become very expensive paperweights,” said Lisa Belot, a spokeswoman for Sprint. “These hotspots will help solve that problem by giving the students internet connectivity at home or wherever they go after school.”

The 3 GB equates to about 3,000 emails and browsing the internet for about 60 hours every month.

Kansas City is one of 10 cities across the country that are the first to benefit from Sprint’s pilot effort. A full national program rollout is planned for the 2017-2018 school year.

Sprint’s 1Million Project will provide 1 million free devices and wireless service to high school students across the country.

Sprint said in a statement Wednesday that 70 percent of high school teachers assign homework to be completed online, yet more than 5 million families with kids do not have internet access at home.

“We’ve talked to experts and high school students across the country and have learned how difficult it can be to keep up with school work when they can’t connect to the internet at home, but we’re helping to change that with the 1Million Project,” said Doug Michelman, president of the 1Million Project.

Kansas City Superintendent Mark Bedell said the program would help “to close the opportunity gap in the Kansas City Public Schools.”

“One of our top priorities is to grow beyond brick and mortar and become a truly 21st-century school system,” Bedell said. “This project will help us make that leap. It also allows for a more equitable learning environment for all students.”

Principals at the district’s high schools discreetly identified students without internet access at home. Each of those students received a hotspot that they will keep until they graduate.

For Kansas City students, having the device is a step toward leveling the academic playing field for low-income students who because of a lack of resources might struggle to do their academic best.

“We want to thank Sprint for thinking of us, for partnering with us,” Bedell said.

Mará Rose Williams: 816-234-4419, @marawilliamskc

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