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MPS Foundation launches $1 million campaign to help close Milwaukee's digital divide

The one thing that COVID-19 has done in this country is exposed the inequities that Black and Brown communities experience each and every day. And one area that this pandemic has shined a bright light on is the digital divide. Basic access to internet during a pandemic has become a necessity and there many who don't have access due to the prohibitive costs especially our youth who need it for their education now more than ever.

That is why I was so excited to see that the MPS Foundation announced their new initiative #ConnectMilwakuee. The goal of #ConnectMilwaukee is to raise $1 million to provide thousands of MPS families with internet access.

Photo via MPS Foundation

Phase 1 of #ConnectMilwaukee involves a fundraising campaign to raise $1 million to provide internet connectivity for continuous remote learning. This campaign matches the investment already made by the Milwaukee Public Schools District. This will allow the district to purchase the volume necessary to receive discounts to meet students' needs.

The #ConnectMilwaukee campaign will double the investment the district received and will fund mobile internet connectivity for more than 5,000 students for 12+ months.

From the press release:

The first phase of the campaign will focus on MPS’s 5,000+ homeless student population and other families that do not have access to the internet. The second phase is working with the MPS school district and over 100 individual school communities to identify evolving needs for online learning including teacher technology education and training, technological enablement grants, and community technology usage support.

“Internet connectivity for our students has been inequitable and unequal. While a large number of us have transitioned to working from home or helping our family members navigate online learning, many parents and families cannot make this shift as easily," said Wendell Willis, executive director of the MPS Foundation. "For those of you sitting at home wondering how you can help, this is the moment. This is your opportunity to directly serve the underserved. Internet access and bridging the digital divide is vital for everyone’s routine daily tasks and we are committed to helping our students have the access they deserve.”

This is similar to initiatives I see around the country in places like Oakland, who recently launched a similar campaign and where the Twitter CEO committed $10 million to their efforts.

To see this in Milwaukee is huge and could make a difference in a young person's life when it comes to access and opportunity.

To learn more about #ConnectMilwaukee or to get involved, you can visit the MPS Foundations's website for all the details.

HYFIN Program Director | Radio Milwaukee