Detroit students will receive computer tablets as part of $23 million program to heal digital disparity

click to enlarge A view of a 3rd floor classroom at the former Old Detroit Holy Redeemer school. - MOTOWN31, WIKIMEDIA CREATIVE COMMONS
Motown31, Wikimedia Creative Commons
A view of a 3rd floor classroom at the former Old Detroit Holy Redeemer school.

In mid-March Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer ordered all Michigan schools to remain closed through the academic school year in an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus, forcing Detroit Public School Community District students to continue their classes from home — many without access to onsite resources, including technology.

In an effort to tackle the widespread digital disparity for 51,000 DPSCD K-12 students, a $23 million investment initiative led by DTE Energy, Quicken Loans, Skillman Foundation, DPSCD, the City of Detroit, as well as additional financial and philanthropic partners has been launched to equip each of the district's students with a computer tablet with high-speed internet capability. Distribution of tablets is expected to begin in June.

“This has been part of our long-term plan for DPSCD for three years as we have invested in technology at schools, but these investments did not impact the lack of connectivity at home,” DPSCD superintendent
Dr. Nikolai Vitti said in a press release. “The ability for our students to access the educational platforms that they use during the school day from home will elevate their learning year-round, not just during this crisis.”

The tablets, which will be recycled each year for incoming students, will also be equipped with various learning programs to better assist the remote learning experience.

In addition to providing the tablets, those students and their households will have free high-speed LTE internet connectivity for those devices for the first six months before transitioning to an affordable, hard-wired connection. However, if families are unable to afford the internet beyond the six months, the program will continue to pay for it.

According to the press release, an estimated 90% of the district's students lack access to a computer or internet.
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