PHILADELPHIA—The City of Philadelphia today announced that families of K-12 students without broadband internet access can now reach out to United Way’s “211” (two-one-one) hotline for general information on how to get online for the upcoming academic year through PHLConnectED.
PHLConnectED, which launched earlier this month, is a collaborative effort to connect low-income K-12 student households with internet and devices for digital learning. The 211 hotline will serve as the primary point of contact for families to get more information about internet access for students.
The City selected United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (United Way) to serve as coordinating agent for PHLConnectED. At launch, United Way’s 211 hotline will provide 24-7 access to information about the program, referrals to resources, and a simple telephone number for families to remember. United Way’s role will expand in coming days to provide more comprehensive coordination of the PHLConnectED program.
“We’re thrilled to launch the PHLConnectED hotline and get our students ready for digital learning,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “We know that many families need internet access, so we’re eager to get started connecting them as quickly as possible. PHLConnectED is a critical step in bridging the digital divide in Philadelphia.”
The 211 hotline is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is available in over 150 languages. Philadelphia K-12 families who do not have any in-home internet access or who have internet access only through mobile phones should call 211 and press option 1 to speak with a resource navigator. When families call the hotline, they will receive general information about PHLConnectED, such as eligibility for the program, and how eligible households can get connected. Families can expect a brief survey to help 211 resource navigators understand their needs.
“The pandemic has only underscored what we already knew to be true—digital access is essential for education and work opportunities,” said Bill Golderer, President & CEO of United Way. “Our 211 hotline makes it easy for people who need help to find programs and resources in their community. We are leveraging the power of 211, and our trained resource navigators stand ready to connect our neighbors with digital access opportunities.”
Yesterday, the School District of Philadelphia and participating Philadelphia Charter Schools began outreach to the first wave of eligible families to start getting them connected. If those families have questions, they are encouraged to contact the 211 hotline as well.
PHLConnectED launched with the support of the City, School District of Philadelphia, Comcast, Lenfest Foundation, Neubauer Family Foundation, Philadelphia School Partnership, and the William Penn Foundation. Additional funding has since been received from the Hess Foundation and the Philadelphia Housing Authority.
To learn more about PHLConnectED, please visit the phila.gov/PHLConnectED.