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Community leaders raise $23 million to help Detroit students learn online

Posted at 5:57 PM, Apr 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-23 18:42:13-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — It is a program called Connected Futures, and it aims to bring opportunity to every student in the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

When the COVID-19 crisis forced students to try to learn at home, it became clear there was a huge problem. The district estimates that 90% of the district’s students do not have access to a device and the internet.

DTE Energy, Skillman Foundation, Quicken Loans, DPSCD and the City of Detroit announced Thursday that they have raised $23 million they plan to spend on bridging the digital divide for 51,000 Detroit students.

Under the plan they will place a computer tablet with high-speed LTE internet connectivity, along with technical support, into the hands of every student before the end of the school year.

“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.”

Seven Action News spoke to the Dacres family about the announcement. All five Dacres children attend the Detroit Public Schools Community District.

“I think it is wonderful because some people don’t have the access to resources they need,” said Vivienne Dacres, who is in the eighth grade.

Dana Dacres has been picking up packets of learning materials regularly for her children, but any on-line assignments require family logistics. The family only has two laptops.

“We have 5 children. We are going to an online format and that means that three of them are going to be waiting,” Dacres said.

“I want to say thank you,” Vivienne said.