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More than 50,000 Detroit students will be receiving tablet-style laptop computers with Internet access in June thanks to a $23 million fundraising effort by public and private groups, according to a Thursday report.
The aim of the Connected Futures Initiative is to facilitate online learning for students living in poverty and without access to the internet, the Detroit Free Press reported. Schools nationwide have turned to teaching online in recent weeks with students staying home during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many Detroit students use cell phones to access assignments and attend lessons. But the computers are expected to making things like reading, downloading and submitting work and attending teleconferences more accessible.
"There's no question that this certainly changes the trajectory of our school-aged children in a city in terms of their ability to learn and advance," said DTE's CEO Jerry Norcia, who organizing the fundraising team.
Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan also noted that the computers will help parents who normally have to go to city work centers to apply for jobs, unemployment benefits or schedule doctor visits.
"But if these households had laptops, they could access those jobs and the job training right on site," Duggan said. "We can help break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, not just by improving the education of the children, but creating opportunities for their parents."
In order to qualify for a computer, students must be enrolled in the school district and can only use the devices for online learning, the Detroit Free Press reported. Families, likewise, must demonstrate financial need.
The computers will come with built-in modems that connect to LTE cellular service. The devices will run Windows 10 software with a suite of programs that enable online learning. The wireless service will be free for six months. After that, families will pay between $12 and $15 a month. Those who can’t afford it will have their bill covered by the district, according to Detroit schools superintendent Nikolai Vitti.