South Bend expands initiative to provide students free internet access
Since the fall of 2020, the city of South Bend, the South Bend Community School Corporation and local nonprofit enFocus have partnered to provide qualifying students with free internet access for e-learning. Now, eligibility for the program is expanding.
Census data shows about 30 percent of South Bend residents don’t have adequate broadband access, which comes out to about 3,500 students who may struggle to participate in e-learning.
The city received $1.8 million to distribute internet equipment through the Governors Emergency Education Relief Grant.
A release from the city says the Citywide Classroom initiative has helped connect more than 2,800 families to date with free home internet packages and mobile WiFi hotspots.
The program has previously been open to students in South Bend Community Schools that qualify for free or reduced lunch or live in households that qualify for unemployment benefits.
Now, all teachers, staff and school employees can apply, as well as 21st Century Scholars enrolled in South Bend schools.
Coverage is also expanding for students already enrolled in the program – students who received a hotspot with one-year coverage will automatically get a new one with five-year coverage when their current hotspot expires.
Families can apply for Citywide Classroom online, call their school’s administrators or call the St. Joseph County Public Library at (574) 282-4646.
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