Sprint announced today that it will be launching a program to provide a million wireless devices and corresponding wireless service to disadvantaged high school students.
The program, dubbed the 1Million Project, is a collaboration between the service provider and the Sprint Foundation. It aims to reduce the “homework gap” that affects families who do not have internet access — of which, there are reportedly 5 million in the US alone, according to CNET. This “homework gap” puts these families at a disadvantage, and makes it harder for children to complete homework assignments that require use of the internet — something that is increasingly mandatory in and out of classrooms across the country.
“Education is the foundation for our society to prosper,” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in a statement, ”And the internet is an incredibly powerful tool for learning. But it’s a huge problem in America that we have 5 million households with children that lack internet connections. Those kids have a huge disadvantage and we are failing them.”
The endeavor is reportedly inspired by President Obama’s ConnectedEd and similar initiative, which provides internet access in low-income areas. It’s worth noting that Sprint participates with the White House’s project as well, CNET reported.
The 1Million Project will see Sprint working with other nonprofits to give disadvantaged students their choice of a free phone, tablet, computer or hotspot, 3-gigabytes of LTE data a month, and free voice and text messaging. Claure said he hopes the devices will reach such students within five years. And while it comes at a surprise that a company struggling to keep afloat would give away so many free phones, the cost to Sprint will actually be fairly low, according to Engadget.
As for which students will be able to participate in the program, Sprint said it will work directly with school districts to narrow down exactly what their students need. And while the more cynical among us might see this move as nothing more than a PR maneuver — at least the end result is that many students in low-income areas will be able to acquire the internet access they need.
The program is allegedly going to run in pilot trials in around 10 markets starting in January of next year. After that, the company’s goal is to rollout the program nationally for the 2017-2018 school year, Gizmodo reported.