As the summer ends and we begin gearing up for the start of the school year, the City is focused on a key goal: ensuring that all K-12 public school students have what they need to learn remotely this fall and beyond.

In July, the School District of Philadelphia announced its all-remote reopening plan for the fall. Students need to get connected to reliable internet quickly to be able to fully succeed and thrive.

We’ve created a collaborative partnership that will help that happen.

PHLConnectED overview

PHLConnectED will connect up to 35,000 K-12 student households with internet service in Philadelphia. The program will offer eligible student households up to two years of high-speed internet. Participants will not pay any out-of-pocket expenses or installation fees.

PHLConnectED has three key components:

  • Provide eligible K-12 households with wired, high-speed, reliable internet from Comcast’s Internet Essentials program, or a high-speed mobile hotspot for families who are housing-insecure.
  • Ensure K-12 public school students have the devices they need (such as a laptop or tablet). The Philadelphia School District recently distributed over 128,000 devices to students without devices at home. The School District and Charter Schools will continue to work with schools and families to make sure they have the resources they need to succeed.
  • Offer outreach, digital navigation, and digital skills training to students and families with the greatest needs to ensure connectivity for those who are the hardest to reach.

The PHLConnectED program is possible thanks to collaboration among business and civic leaders who came together to support Philadelphia students.

PHLConnectED eligibility

The program prioritizes families with the greatest need for internet service. We will focus on connecting K-12 families who do not have any internet access, who have only mobile phone internet access, or who are homeless or housing-insecure.

Eligible households will be identified through data gathered by the School District of Philadelphia, the Charter Schools Office, and internet service providers. The School District or schools will reach out to these households through direct mail, email, calls, or text message later this month. In the meantime, families are encouraged to make sure their schools have updated their most updated contact information.

What parents and guardians can do now: If you don’t have internet at home and need it for your K-12 student, get in touch with your school to tell them and be sure that your contact information on file is accurate.

A step in the right direction

PHLConnectED is the first stage of the City’s larger digital equity initiative to support digital literacy and access for all Philadelphia residents. Our immediate goal: Get our students connected so that they can continue to learn while staying safe during the pandemic.

And by focusing on K-12 student households, we can help lessen the digital divide in Philadelphia; getting these student households connected will also give internet access to any other individuals living at these locations.