A partnership between the City of South Bend, enFocus, and the South Bend Community School Corporation will administer more than $1.8 million in grant funding to provide free and reduced-cost home internet for eligible student households and expand community WiFi.
The Citywide Classroom South Bend initiative aims to create seamless connectivity across the City, no matter where young learners are. Free at-home Internet packages and mobile WiFi hotspots will be provided to in-need SBCSC households, and free community WiFi will be expanded.
The urgency of bridging the digital divide has become even more clear during the shift to remote learning amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Mayor James Mueller. “This program will help connect South Bend’s kids with reliable internet access at home so they can continue their education.”
The grant money is being provided through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) program, which is focused on improving remote learning opportunities for Hoosiers.
“The idea behind Citywide Classroom South Bend was that we need to provide a suite of resources to students so that they can learn from anywhere in the city.” said Denise Linn Riedl, Chief Innovation Officer. “At-home internet will anchor student e-learning, but hotspots will be their portable option and community access points will supplement as well.”
“Household connectivity ensures every student can learn in the current remote environment. This initiative will bring resources to students with the greatest need as early as this fall” said Gillian Shaw, Program Director of Research and Development at enFocus
Information on the application process for SBCSC families will be made available over the coming weeks.
“The City, South Bend Schools and enFocus are committed to working collaboratively to deliver innovative solutions that serve the needs our community,” said Andrew Wiand, enFocus Executive Director.
According to the 2018 5-year American Community Survey data, about 30 percent of households in South Bend do not have a broadband connection.