Students at Booker T. Washington High School -- the oldest public high school in Miami -- are some of the 22,000 in Miami-Dade County who will soon have access to free internet in their homes.
The announcement was made late Monday morning.
“We are partnering with Comcast and the Comcast Internet Essentials program to be able to register eligible families into that service and to receive two years of paid internet service,” said Sarah Emmons, the executive director of Achieve Miami.
Comcast, the parent company of NBCUniversal, would be the internet provider, but the program is made possible by a $5 million donation given to the Miami Foundation. Achieve Miami is the organization that is charged with carrying the initiative to fruition.
Starting this month, the project called “Miami Connected” will equip families in digital deserts like Overtown, Little Haiti, Liberty City and Homestead with broadband internet service. Kevin Lawrence, Booker T. Washington High School's principal, is elated.
“With all the challenges that our students face, something as simple as what we take for granted ... we could walk home and we have Wi-Fi access so we could get on the internet. A large portion of my students don’t have that,” Lawrence said.
The pandemic only worsened the already existing struggles of children in these under-resourced areas and forced them to work harder than their peers in other communities just to get a basic education.
"Since their homes, they don’t have access there, they may go to Mcdonald’s. They may go to a Starbucks. They may go anywhere that has Wi-Fi connectivity so that they’re able to log into their Zoom sessions and still go to school,” said the high school principal.
Miami-Dade County Public School's Superintendent Alberto Carvahlo applauds the initiative, which strives to eventually bring connectivity to 100,000 families within his school district.
“Providing them with broadband access, digital content and job opportunities for themselves and for their families. This is the right investment for our community,” Carvahlo said.
Mayor Francis Suarez pointed out this initiative goes hand in hand with that of making the City of Miami one of the nation’s technology hubs.
“This is the delivery of a promise, that as we invite innovators and creators to come to our city, to create high-paying jobs, that we don’t forget about every single person in our city -- those who historically would not have had an opportunity potentially to fulfill those jobs," Suarez said.
Comcast is the parent company of NBCUniversal, which owns this station.