More than 4,000 Newark Public Schools students got a surprise Friday when they were all given free Sprint wireless devices.
The giveaway is part of Sprint’s 1Million Project, designed to provide 1 million high school students nationwide who do not have internet access at home with devices, thus enabling them to reach their full potential with free high-speed internet access. Sprint provided the devices and service to participating students for up to four years while they attend high school.
Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Newark Public Schools Superintendent Christopher Cerf and Sprint Regional President for New York City and New Jersey Karen Paletta handed out the devices to the students at an event at Weequahic High School in the South Ward.
Students received a free smartphone or hot spot device, unlimited data, free hot spot capability and unlimited domestic calls/text and a free content filter solution designed to block access to content deemed harmful to minors as required by the Children’s Internet Protection Act. Sprint launched its 1Million Project in 2016 as a multiyear initiative to offer free mobile devices and free high-speed wireless internet connectivity to 1 million low-income, U.S. high school students lacking a reliable source of internet access at home.
The program aims to eliminate the “homework gap” that puts low-income students at a major disadvantage because they don’t have ready access to the internet needed for completing homework, communicating with teachers or applying for jobs, scholarships or college.
Pew Research Center reports that 5 million U.S. families with school-aged children do not have broadband access at home. Low-income homes with children are four times more likely to be without broadband than middle-income or upper-income households. At least 70 percent of teachers assign homework that requires web access, according to the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Task Force.