More Than 15,000 Internet Connections Enabled by Program
PHILADELPHIA—The City of Philadelphia today announced that PHLConnectED will now be available for pre-K student households. PHLConnectED, which was launched last fall to provide free high speed internet to K–12 student households, is now expanding to also include pre-K families.
The expansion—effective immediately—is the culmination of work since PHLConnectED launched. Over many months, the City has worked with pre-K stakeholders, including providers, to create the necessary systems to expand PHLConnectED to pre-K families. The Kenney administration has always been dedicated to quality early learning—especially through its free PHLpreK program—and this expansion helps support the City’s youngest learners. Additionally, PHLConnectED is part of the City’s larger digital equity strategy to get all households connected to fast, reliable broadband service. Expanding to pre-K households means family members or residents living in the same space also have internet access.
“Supporting our pre-K community with quality early education tools is essential, and a reliable internet connection is one of those tools,” said Mayor Jim Kenney. “Expanding PHLConnectED to include pre-K households is an important step to continue to help Philadelphia’s youngest learners grow and be successful over the long term. The pandemic has continued to show us that internet access is an essential service for all—regardless of age, and I’m glad that more families will be connected by the time they start kindergarten.”
Pre-K student households qualify for PHLConnectED if they follow the existing program eligibility requirements:
- Do not have internet access; or
- Have mobile phone internet access only; or
- Are experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity; or
- Have students who participate in remote learning in locations without internet access.
If households already have internet in their homes, they qualify if they:
- Participate in public benefit programs with income qualifications like Medicaid; or
- Have students designated as English Learners; or
- Have students who receive special education services.
Families without reliable internet access can learn more by dialing 2-1-1. For language services, callers should press 8.
“We are excited for this announcement and grateful for the expansion which will serve and support our youngest learners,” said William R. Hite, Jr., Ed.D., superintendent of the School District of Philadelphia. “This resource will be valuable to our students and their families as we register more students for pre-kindergarten and kindergarten, invite them to attend the virtual open house and encourage them to participate in this year’s summer programming to help them transition and feel confident about starting school in the fall.”
The School District of Philadelphia’s pre-K and kindergarten registration processes are now open—please visit www.philasd.org/thriveatfive and www.philasd.org/prek for more information. Families interested in the City of Philadelphia’s PHLpreK program can visit www.phlprek.org or call (844) PHL-PREK to learn more.
As of March 2021, PHLConnectED has provided more than 15,000 internet connections. This includes:
- Over 2,500 students who received MiFi devices from the school district over the spring and summer;
- More than 7,900 families that signed up for 60 days of free Internet Essentials service and were transitioned into PHLConnectED to have their internet bills paid by the program;
- And over 4,600 internet connections directly through PHLConnectED to either Internet Essentials or MiFi devices.
The City continues to work with seven Philadelphia community-based organizations to reach out to families and raise awareness about the program. These organizations conduct outreach through phone-banking, socially distanced door-to-door knocking, and flyer distribution. The City is still working with the School District and charter schools to identify families in need through direct communications. Additionally, digital navigator services are available at 6 organizations in Philadelphia to offer support to any residents in need of any type of digital support, including PHLConnectED.
To learn more about PHLConnectED, visit phila.gov/phlconnected.