Sprint Corp. plans to give away 1 million smartphones and other connected devices and free wireless service to help high school students who don’t have internet access at home.
The program, called the 1Million Project, will connect 200,000 students per year over five years. Sprint, headquartered in suburban Kansas City, said students would receive limited LTE data service and unlimited slower service as well as free phone and text service during their four high school years.
“Education is the foundation for our society to prosper, and the internet is an incredibly powerful tool for learning,” Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure said in the company’s announcement Tuesday. “But it’s a huge problem in America that we have 5 million households with children that lack internet connections. Those kids have a huge disadvantage and we are failing them.
In its announcement, Sprint called the effort “the largest corporate initiative to bridge the digital divide and help close the ‘Homework Gap’ for 1 million disadvantaged high school students lacking home internet access.”
Sprint already addresses the digital divide though programs including the White House’s ConnectED and ConnectHome, My Brother’s Keeper and other efforts.
Sprint noted that the 1Million Project is getting support from the Sprint Foundation and through donations from device manufacturers. Devices available through the project are smartphones, tablets, laptops and hotspots.
The 1Million Project will begin in seven to 10 cities, according to Sprint, though the company has identified only Kansas City so far.
High schools and public housing authorities can apply this month to take part in the several-cities 1Million Project pilot that begins in January. A full rollout of the project nationally is set for the start of the 2017-18 school year.