More than 700 Puerto Rican students forced by Hurricane Maria to move to the Orlando area will get free wireless devices and service from Sprint so they can do online homework.
About 70 percent of high school teachers assign homework that requires being online, according to Sprint, so a couple years ago it created the 1Million Project with a goal of providing 1 million free devices to students who need them to “close the homework gap.”
Sprint said Friday that through the 1Million Project it will provide help to about 700 students in Orange County, Florida who arrived there after fleeing Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
“Starting over in a new place and a new school would be a huge challenge for any student,” Scott Howat, President of the Foundation for OCPS said in a statement released by Sprint. “But when you consider that many of these kids lost absolutely everything, we recognized there was an even greater need to help them get a fresh start. Because of Sprint’s 1Million Project we had an amazing opportunity to give them the tools and internet connectivity they will need to succeed in school.”
Sprint has already provided nearly 200,000 devices for accessing the internet to more than 1,400 schools in 30 states during the program’s first year.
“Without access to these free devices and service, for many of these students the go-to solution is to do their homework at fast-food restaurants, where the Wi-Fi is free,” the 1Million Project website says. “Other students spend hours in restaurant parking lots. Many also wait in long lines at libraries to secure the time online to complete their homework. Again, this isn’t fair, it isn’t right and it doesn’t need to happen.”
The program provides portable wireless devices, or hotspots, allowing students to get online just about anywhere they are, and either tablets or smartphones. The free online service can’t be used by other devices. The smartphones and tablets come with filtering devices that block certain websites, such as those with adult content.
Under the program, students are identified by local schools, and applications are made by the schools or the district.