Federal Grant Money To Help NC K-12 Students Lacking Home Internet Access

Apr 30, 2018

The state has received a $250,000 federal grant to increase K-12 students' access to the internet at home. 

Statewide, about 10 percent of households with school-aged children lack reliable internet access, shows a recent study from the North Carolina Department of Information Technology.  These students fall into what education experts refer to as the “homework gap” because they’re unable to complete out-of-class assignments that require high-speed internet access.

This map shows the estimated "homework gap" - proportion of students who lack broadband internet access - for counties across the state. The counties colored sky blue have the least number of homes with broadband access. Many of those counties are in the eastern and western part of the state.
Credit North Carolina Department of Information Technology - Broadband Infrastructure Office

“Most teachers assign homework that requires internet access, and many textbooks in North Carolina public schools are now digital. That puts those students without home internet access at a huge disadvantage," State Librarian Cal Shepard said in a release. 

The Institute of Museum and Library Services will help the state address this problem through a $250,000 federal grant that will pay for WiFi hotspots.   Over the next two years, up to four county library systems will receive the devices, which they will then lend to families who lack broadband internet at home.  

The first county to receive the WiFi hotspots has not yet been named. State library officials expect up to 300 families from economically distressed counties will receive WiFi hotspots during the two-year project.

"This project uses the great resources we already have in local libraries and public schools to begin to break down those barriers and close the gap for these students,” Shepard said.