Sprint wants to make sure high schoolers have no excuse to not do their homework.
The company and its philanthropic arm, The Sprint Foundation, on Monday announced they will connect 180,000 low-income high school students this school year as part of the 1Million Project. The 5-year program aims to connect 1 million high schoolers who lack internet access at home.
"Sprint is uniquely positioned to help make a difference in these kids' lives immediately and on a massive level, and that's exactly what we're doing," Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a statement. "In less than a year, we've gone from conceiving and piloting the 1Million Project to implementing it in order to help hundreds of thousands of high school students across the country this school year."
The initiative officially kicks off Aug. 15. This school year, Sprint will provide free devices and wireless service to 180,000 students in more than 1,300 schools across 32 states. Students selected to take part in the program will receive either a free smartphone, tablet, or hotspot device plus 3GB of high-speed LTE data per month for up to four years while in high school.
Seventy percent of high school teachers assign homework that requires online connectivity, but more than 5 million families with school-aged students don't have the internet at home, Sprint said in a news release.
"These students face an enormous challenge in trying to complete their homework from home, search for jobs, apply to college and financial aid, or easily access the valuable information they need to succeed in school and life," Sprint said.
School districts that will participate in the program include the New York City Department of Education, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Los Angeles Unified School District, Chicago Public Schools, Phoenix Union High School District 210, and Baltimore City Public Schools. Also participating are: DeKalb County School District in Georgia, Newark Public Schools in New Jersey, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools in North Carolina, Oakland Unified School District in California, and Florida's Broward County Public Schools.
Sprint piloted the program in January with 3,750 high school students. Eighty-six percent of the students who participated in the pilot said it "improved their attitude toward learning and school and helped them do their homework," Sprint said.
Sprint will be donating around $2.16 billion in wireless service, tech support, and staff to oversee the project over the next five years. The majority of the devices for the first year of the program have been donated to the Sprint Foundation by vendors like TCT Mobile US (Alcatel), American Network Solutions, Franklin Wireless, LG Electronics MobileComm USA, Motorola Mobility, and ZTE USA.