Detroit students to be given free computer tablets with internet connectivity

Posted at 7:48 AM, Apr 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 17:55:00-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — Through a partnership with multiple organizations and businesses, every Detroit Public Schools Community District student will receive a computer tablet with high-speed internet connectivity.

DPSCD, DTE Energy, Skillman Foundation, Quicken Loans and the City of Detroit made the announcement Thursday morning.

The program, called Connected Futures, aims to address digital inequity within the city. Students have been forced to learn from home as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, but DPSCD estimates that 90 percent of the district's students do not have access to a device and the internet.

The first six months of internet connectivity will be fully subsidized, officials say, during which time students will be transitioned to a hard-wired connection.

“When our executive team began prioritizing COVID-19 relief efforts, the issue of digital inequity for Detroit students rose to the top,” said DTE Energy President and CEO Jerry Norcia. “We recognized that we needed to take action urgently to close the digital divide for these students and provide them with the tools necessary to thrive in the 21st century. Today, the Detroit community commits to our children’s futures. It’s time for us to level the playing field for the students of Detroit.”

“This has been part of our long-term plan for DPSCD for three years as we have invested in technology at schools, but these investments did not impact the lack of connectivity at home,” said Dr. Nikolai Vitti, DPSCD superintendent. “The ability for our students to access the educational platforms that they use during the school day from home will elevate their learning year-round, not just during this crisis. We know that our children perform exponentially better during the school year, but when they return in September, they’ve lost much of their progress from the prior school year. We are sincerely grateful to DTE for leading the charge on this initiative and for the many funders who have come forward to support our students.”

Norcia noted that the program will benefit the entire family, not just the student. Families will be able to easily access sites that can help them with applying for financial assistance or finding a job.

“When we look back to this time in 10 years, we will see that this moment changed the trajectory of education in our city,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “We have risen to the challenge of this pandemic and found a way to forge something positive for our children. This will be a defining moment of pride in Detroit for many, many years.”

Additional Coronavirus information and resources:

Read our daily Coronavirus Live Blog for the latest updates and news on coronavirus.

Click here for a page with resources including a COVID-19 overview from the CDC, details on cases in Michigan, a timeline of Governor Gretchen Whitmer's orders since the outbreak, coronavirus' impact on Southeast Michigan, and links to more information from the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, the CDC and the WHO.

View a global coronavirus tracker with data from Johns Hopkins University.

Find out how you can help metro Detroit restaurants struggling during the pandemic.

See all of our Helping Each Other stories.

See complete coverage on our Coronavirus Continuing Coverage page.