AUSD Plans to Provide Free Internet, Devices

Starting in August, the Alameda Unified School District (AUSD), in partnership with the 1Million Project Foundation, will provide free wireless devices and high-speed wireless Internet service to high school students who aren’t able to access the Internet at home. The Internet hot spots are being provided through a grant from the foundation, whose mission is to help one million high school students get the digital tools they need to complete their homework.

To further help students, AUSD will provide used Chromebooks to those who don’t have computers at home. The district is replacing 1900 of its oldest Chromebooks this summer because their operating systems are no longer sufficient to run the state’s standardized tests. The devices, however, are powerful enough for students to use them to complete homework.

The initiative began last winter when AUSD Board Member Jennifer Williams, who was touring Ruby Bridges Elementary School, learned that a number of families had neither Internet access nor computers at home. 

Williams called Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft to inquire about Internet access at Alameda Point. Ashcraft suggested that Williams talk to Carolyn Hogg, the information technology & innovation director for the city. Hogg set up a meeting with Doug Biggs, executive director of the Alameda Point Collaborative and Seth Hubbert, executive director of the Tech Exchange, an Oakland-based, non-profit organization dedicated to helping families get access to computers and the Internet. 

Hubbert, in turn, told the team about the 1Million Project Foundation. AUSD’s four high school principals and AUSD Director of Technology Services Rob Van Herk applied for and received a grant from the foundation last spring.

“This is exactly the kind of city-district partnership that I think is so vital for helping our underserved community members,” Williams said. “The city and district jointly serve our students and families. Pooling our expertise and resources this way makes us all the more effective in getting the right services to families who need help.”

Former Superintendent Sean McPhetridge added, “This is a win-win-win for our students, our school district and our environment.”