16:34 PM

Closing the Homework Gap Through Access

For some Americans access to the internet is at their fingertips. They’re able to help their kids search online for their latest curiosity, study for an upcoming quiz, find a cool science experiment, and look for an afterschool job. They don’t have to search for a spot where the internet is reliable before they can connect.

However, for nearly 10 million Americans, who don’t have access to reliable internet, this is a daily challenge. Among those millions are countless youths who need to access the internet to learn and connect for school and education.  As we live in an increasingly digital and online world, more educational opportunities, curriculum and programs are turned into digital apps and websites to help reach more youth. But for the youth who don’t have access to reliable internet, it only makes the digital divide even greater.

To help close the homework gap, UScellular made a commitment in 2021 through UScellular After School Access Project to help bring access to reliable internet through the donation of hotspots and service to youth-serving nonprofits in our markets. I’m excited to share that we’ve donated more than $20 million in hotspots and service to help connect more than 60,000 youth to the internet and other online educational resources since the start of the program.

It seems hard to imagine what access could mean for the thousands of youths who now have it, so we asked and listened to the over 150 organizations that have received hotspots and service for the youth they serve.

Here’s some of what access means to the youth who have impacted by the program:

  • An Oklahoma City youth’s literacy scores are raised to her current grade level because she now can read online books at home.
  • A high school junior in Asheville, North Carolina could finish her pre-college homework at home instead of during her school lunch period or wherever she can find Wi-Fi in the area.
  • Two La Crosse, Wisconsin high school seniors could keep up with their class work and graduation requirements while traveling to participate in a highly selective statewide Youth of the Year event.
  • Youth in Yakima, Washington who came to the US with their parents as refugees could learn English and keep up with their other studies by joining online learning programs.

We recently visited one of our partners at Boys and Girls Club of Cedar Valley in Waterloo, Iowa to ask youth and the leaders of the Club what this program has been able to help them accomplish. Check out this video to see what they shared.

Their afterschool and summer programs use the hotspots for various activities including homework assistance and access to online math games. The Club also uses the hotspots on field trips to learn about plants, insects and animals, some of which the youth might be seeing for the first time, in a local state park. This experience, along with having access to online Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) programs could help advance interest in becoming a math teacher, a biologist, or any career they can dream of.

These are just a few of the many stories we’ve heard about the impact that access has brought to youth. It’s truly life changing. But we know our work isn't done until all youth across UScellular’s footprint and the United States have the online tools, resources and opportunities they need to thrive.

Join us by learning about After School Access Project and other ways we're helping bridge the digital divide in our local communities.

August 22, 2023


Laurent "LT" Therivel
President and CEO of UScellular