By Christine Rogers
Internet connectivity is a critical resource during the pandemic and the Internet For All coalition aims to ensure every family has access.
The Internet For All coalition is made up of more than 40 community leaders including Chief Technology Officers from nine Dallas County school districts, The Dallas Regional Chamber, City of Dallas, the Dallas Innovation Alliance and the Federal Reserve Bank. The coalition has been meeting since May to pursue short-term, medium-term and long-term strategies to ensure all students have a reliable internet connection.
The “Get Connected” campaign, sponsored by State Senator Royce West, will inform students and families to call a hotline to share their internet connectivity needs so that school districts can get students connected to a reliable and free internet solution.
“Our estimates show at least 75,000 families across Dallas County lack reliable, broadband internet access right now. And that makes virtual learning difficult, if not impossible,” explained Dottie Smith, president of Dallas nonprofit The Commit Partnership, and co-chair of the Internet for All coalition. “Our hope with the “Get Connected” campaign is to reach every single one of those households and provide a reliable internet solution as quickly as possible.”
Families can call the Internet for All hotline at 972-925-6000 and a representative from their school district will contact them within seven days to arrange the best internet access solution available.
To get the word out to families, local radio and television stations, including KRNB 105.7, K104, 97.9 The Beat, and Majic 94.5 among others, will be promoting the campaign September 2-6 with public service announcements and interviews with local leaders talking about the digital divide and resources available for Dallas County residents.
“The current dilemma of how to deliver quality education during a public health crisis has served to draw attention to the digital divide problem that has negatively impacted certain neighborhoods within the larger community for too long,” said Senator West. “This collaborative effort among school districts, education advocates, civic organizations, and the Dallas-Fort Worth community can hopefully generate greater awareness and a response from the private sector. Because these same students who now face this extreme challenge will also supply next generation’s workforce.”
The most common internet solution to be deployed is the distribution of mobile hotspots, but the coalition is also pursuing ways to connect entire households so that everyone can benefit from internet connection.
Even if families are planning to opt into face-to-face instruction, everyone is encouraged to get connected in case schools have to go back to virtual learning only. Reliable internet access for all students and families ensures access for all to additional learning experiences and resources, like job searches and telehealth, during this pandemic.
To learn more about the Internet for All Coalition and how to get connected, visit www.internetfordallas.org.