Remote learning? Not without internet - Metropolitan Planning Council

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Remote learning? Not without internet

In what could be the largest high-speed internet connection effort in the U.S., Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot recently pledged $50 million toward broadband access for Chicago Public Schools learners. Recent research by Kids First Chicago and MPC helped inspire this move toward equity

Coronavirus magnifies inequities. Not least among them, inconsistent internet access poses problems for people trying to live their lives in a world that's rapidly switched from in-person to online. One group who've felt the pinch? Chicago's K-12 students.

In late April, Kids First Chicago and MPC released a report revealing that children of color are less likely to have the internet or connected devices at home, the tools necessary for remote learning. How can you do school from home, without the right tools?

That's why last month Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced “Chicago Connected,” a program offering free broadband to 100,000 Chicago Public Schools students. This would not be possible without Chicago Connected's incredible partners and donors

Want to learn more about how the Coronavirus exacerbates digital inequities in education?

Check out our report with Kids First Chicago

Or catch up with this recent news coverage of Mayor Lightfoot's "Chicago Connected" program, which highlights key findings from the report:

  • More than 100,000 Chicago Public Schools students will soon have free access to broadband internet through a first-of-its-kind initiative aimed at helping the kids and families who are most in need in the city. With the possibility of remote learning returning this fall, Mayor Lori Lightfoot on Thursday announced the launch of “Chicago Connected,” a $50 million program that will provide free high-speed internet to students over the next four years.
  • Kids First Chicago, a local education nonprofit, and the Metropolitan Planning Council released a report which found that about one in five Black or Latino children under the age of 18 lack access to broadband in their homes.
  • ... Chicago’s initiative goes much further than others and could serve as a national model, said Daniel Anello of the advocacy group Kids First Chicago, which took part in efforts to launch the initiative. “Sixty thousand households is a huge lift for digital equity,” he said. “This is probably going to be one of — if not the — largest high-speed internet connection efforts in the country.”
  • An April study by Kids First and the Metropolitan Planning Council found that one in five Chicago children lacks internet access at home, with much higher rates in predominantly Black and Latino neighborhoods.
  • This spring, the district distributed 100,000 computers in addition to providing mobile hotspots to homeless students, though efforts mostly focused around directing families to a 60-day free internet offer from Comcast. Many students still fell through the cracks, with an April study from Kids First and the Metropolitan Planning Council finding one in five students lacked home internet, especially in Black and Hispanic communities.
  • Inspired by the firsthand accounts of parents struggling to get their families connected to remote learning and other essential supports, Kids First Chicago (K1C), in partnership with the Metropolitan Planning Council, released a report, Digital Equity in Education in the Coronavirus Era, showing the city’s widespread connectivity gaps and calling upon Chicago leaders to act. 
This program would not be possible without Chicago Connected's incredible partners and donors


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For more than 85 years, the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) has partnered with communities, businesses, and governments to unleash the greatness of the Chicago region. We believe that every neighborhood has promise, every community should be heard, and every person can thrive. To tackle the toughest urban planning and development challenges, we create collaborations that change perceptions, conversations—and the status quo. Read more about our work »

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