Kansas City was selected as part of a national pilot program to connect more children and families to the Internet.
President Obama on Wednesday introduced the ConnectHome initiative, which will connect more low-income families to high-speed broadband. To achieve that, the program will unite Internet service providers, non-profits and the private sector to offer broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs and devices for residents in assisted housing units.
Kansas City will add this initiative to its list of digital inclusion efforts, including participation in Google Fiber’s digital inclusion fellowship program.
“The President’s selection of Kansas City as a ConnectHome Initiative city will advance our ongoing digital equity efforts for our entire city,” Kansas City Mayor Sly James said in a release. “Public housing residents are in dire need of connectivity, and our participation in this initiative will give everyone the opportunity to succeed in Kansas City’s technological economy.”
Through the initiative, Google Fiber will launch a program in public and affordable housing properties to connect them to Internet free of charge. Offering free Internet services, however, is not enough to allow people to fully experience the benefits of connectivity, according to Google Fiber. Google will also partner with ConnectHome and local non-profits to offer basic Internet skills trainings and computers.
ConnectHome will initially reach over 275,000 households and nearly 200,000 children nationwide, with the prospect of that number growing in the future. The program hopes to connect nearly 99 percent of K-12 students to Internet in schools and libraries by 2017.
Edwin Lowndes, executive director of the Housing Authority of Greater Kansas City, said that the program will help disadvantaged families access vital programs and information.
“Affordable internet service is necessary in today’s world in order to access education, employment opportunities and fully participate in our communities.” Lowndes said in a release. “We are excited that the Housing Authority and the City of Kansas City have been selected to participate in the President’s ConnectHome Initiative. We will focus on ways to bring affordable Internet services to very low-income families in Kansas City and provide opportunities for these families to access 21st century technology in their homes.”