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As COVID-19 metastasized in early 2020, it became clear that transitioning to digital life would be difficult for many. This was especially true for the nearly 10 million K-12 students who without a computer or internet access at home. For them, participating in remote learning would be nearly impossible.

Nowhere was this more apparent than Detroit, where less than 50% of households had a personal computer or internet connection. Recognizing that this crisis could derail the educational outcomes of Detroit’s youth, city leaders created Connected Futures. Composed of leaders from municipal government, local businesses, and various community-based organizations, the Connected Futures Project demonstrated how corporate, philanthropic and nonprofit resources could come together to address a need in their community.

Thanks to $23 million provided by partners like General Motors and Rocket Companies, the project provided 51,000 Detroit students with tablets and hotspots. While this was an important first step, devices alone can not sufficiently ensure students’ success in remote learning environments.

We at Human-I-T always say things like this. We’ve always advocated for public and private stakeholders to adopt a holistic approach to promoting digital inclusion; one that encourages critical thinking about the value of devices to people who can’t operate them or resolve technical difficulties. We applaud the Detroit Public Schools Foundation and its partners for seeing this need and inviting us to bolster DPS’ IT department’s technical support capabilities.

By leveraging our values of continuous improvement and excellence in execution, we were able  to fulfill over 17,750 remote and in-person technical support tickets for Detroit’s students in just one year. That’s over 17,750 times when a student wasn’t prevented from completing assignments or studying just because of a technical issue.

Although the first phase of the Connected Futures Project is now complete, our work is nowhere near over. There are still tens of thousands of Detroit students who need continual support from their community to ensure their success. So we’ll be right there with them – both in-person and virtually – to empower them with the support they need to excel in and out of the classroom and ensure they can harness the power of technology to improve their communities for years to come.

Lo Terry

About Lo Terry