New program to fund internet access for 1,000 Kalamazoo families

Lack of internet access has been identified as a major problem affecting poor students in Kalamazoo.

The closure of schools due to COVID-19 has exposed a major deficit affecting poor families across the Kalamazoo Public School district: Internet access.

A new program seeks to fill that gap by offering free internet service to 1,000 KPS households.

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More than a third of KPS students live in households below the poverty line, and those families typically have a difficult time getting online.

When the governor closed schools in March, KPS began offering instruction predominantly via the internet. That left many families struggling to access educational resources.

Funding for the new Digital Access for All partnership was approved Monday by the Kalamazoo City Commission. The partnership includes the City of Kalamazoo, KPS, the Kalamazoo Promise, the Kalamazoo Public Library, and the Kalamazoo Community Foundation.

KPS and the Kalamazoo Promise will each kick in $50,000 for the first year with the City of Kalamazoo’s Foundation for Excellence funding the rest of the $200,000 price tag.

KPL Director Ryan Wieber said the program fills a vital need.

“Access to the internet has already become more of a necessity than a luxury, even without a pandemic,” he said in an article on MLive. “It is essential for learning, research, banking, collaborating, and a critical part of an education in itself.”

Participants must be a KPS student participating in the KPS/KPL OneCard program.

You can read more here.

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