PHILADELPHIA—The City of Philadelphia today kicked off “PHLConnectED Week” by announcing the expansion of eligibility for PHLConnectED, a collaborative, City-led initiative that provides free internet to K-12 student households in need. PHLConnectED Week will run from Monday, December 14 to Friday, December 18, 2020.
During this week, the City and its partners will concentrate additional efforts around promotion of PHLConnectED, especially to newly eligible families and encourage them to sign up for the program. As the second marking period begins, the City and its partners want to ensure that every student has the tools they need to learn in the new year. The City aims to raise awareness of the program so that eligible families dial 2- 1-1 and press 1 to learn about the program, or activate their existing Internet Essentials enrollment codes, or pick up their hotspots this week. “We’re thrilled to be expanding eligibility for PHLConnectED,” said Mayor Jim Kenney.
“We want to connect as many families as possible to reliable internet access. As digital learning continues, access to high speed internet is more important than ever. We need everyone’s help to spread the word about this resource throughout the community.”
The City has expanded PHLConnectED to include certain Philadelphia K-12 families with internet access who may be having difficulty affording it. These include those who:
- Participate in public benefit programs with income qualifications
- Have students designated as English Learners
- Have students who receive special education services
The original eligibility standards also apply and include Philadelphia K-12 families who:
- Do not have broadband (in-home/wireline) internet access
- Only have internet access through a mobile phone(s)
- Are experiencing homelessness, are housing insecurity, are in-between housing, or are located where a wireline connection may not be possible
- Have students who complete their remote learning in locations without internet access
“Over the last nine months, the City and many partners have helped more than 12,000 families cross the digital divide. Throughout this process, we’ve also learned that many families already have internet service, but struggle to afford it,” said Chief Information Officer Mark Wheeler. “This exciting expansion of PHLConnectED eligibility will help ensure that cost is not a barrier to maintaining the internet when students need it more than ever.”
During this week, the City and its partners will be conducting another round of outreach to eligible K-12 families through texts, emails, and phone calls. The City will also be partnering with Global Citizen, a nonprofit organization committed to civic engagement, during PHLConnectED week to deliver hotspots to families who have not yet picked them up.
“The School District of Philadelphia remains committed to supporting the City and its work to help connect more families to reliable internet service,” said District Superintendent William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D. “We’ve long been aware of the inequities caused by the digital divide and PHLConnectED is a very real solution for us to close the gap and ensure that all children have access to the tools and resources required to successfully engage in digital learning.”
PHLConnectED is funded by support from the City and School District as well as a broad coalition of businesses, schools and civic leaders, including Comcast, Lenfest Foundation, Neubauer Family Foundation, Philadelphia School Partnership, William Penn Foundation and more.
To learn more about the PHLConnectED program, visit phila.gov/phlconnected.