By Erica Fatima
The digital inclusion program brings high-speed Internet and technology education to low-income families throughout Metro Atlanta
Click here to see the ConnectHome video
On Wednesday, Jan. 27, Mayor Kasim Reed announced—to a packed house of eager APS students and their families—the launch of the Atlanta ConnectHome pilot program. ConnectHome is an initiative to narrow the digital divide by providing low-income families and school-age children in the City of Atlanta with Internet services and devices to improve educational outcomes. Mayor Reed was joined by officials from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Atlanta Housing Authority (AHA), Atlanta Public Schools (APS), as well as various local businesses and community stakeholders for the launch of the ConnectHome program at the Center of Hope at Dunbar Recreation Center in Southwest Atlanta.
“We are excited and honored to be selected to participate in the #ConnectHomeATL Initiative,” said Mayor Reed. “The Internet is an indispensable tool for accessing educational resources, employment opportunities, health care services, and so much more. Our families and children who now have the opportunity to participate in the ConnectHome program will realize that high-speed broadband is not a luxury, it’s a necessity.”
Dr. Rubye Sullivan, Executive Director of APS’ Data and Information Group, along with APS’ Instructional Technology team presented the new tablets to the families, and provided one-on-one tutorials. The tablets are equipped with APS’ MyBackPack program, Infinite Campus app, Google Chrome and much more.
“Atlanta’s ConnectHome is an awesome program that will provide the connectivity necessary to allow our families the ability to leverage the virtual educational tools available within APS,” stated Dr. Sullivan. “Now our parents can have immediate access to the Internet and can readily connect to the APS Parent Portal and MyBackPack; these tablets bridge the digital divide. All of these tools help us become APS strong!”
APS Parkside Elementary parent Patricia Ward stated, “I’m glad that we are getting these tablets and access to free internet. My daughter is in second grade and she will be so happy to have her own tablet. But for me, this is a great teaching tool—I can show her how to search the web—and continue to stimulate her thirst for knowledge.”
Atlanta is one of 27 U.S. cities and one tribal nation chosen by the White House and HUD to participate in the ConnectHome pilot program. The Obama Administration announced the program in July 2015, and will initially provide over 275,000 households and nearly 200,000 children, with the support they need to access the Internet at home.
As part of the launch of the ConnectHome pilot program, more than 100 families received computer devices, free internet service, and digital literacy training that will connect families with educational resources as well as job training.
“We are excited to work with the Mayor to provide Internet access to our families,” said Joy Fitzgerald, Interim President and CEO of the Atlanta Housing Authority. “Access to technology and the Internet put our parents and students on an equal footing, ultimately leading to enriched educational experiences and job opportunities. Digital literacy is the stepping stone for our families to achieve their dreams.”
The City will launch the second phase of the ConnectHome pilot program this summer at the Center of Hope at Adamsville Recreation Center, when more than 500 low-income families who live in HUD-assisted homes will receive the same services.