Our approach to enabling connectivity for all includes connecting disadvantaged youth, providing accessible solutions to people with disabilities, and offering affordable wireless phone service to eligible people who couldn’t otherwise afford it.
Today, mobile connectivity is not equally accessible and is often times the difference between the haves and the have-nots. According to the Pew Research Center, 37% of U.S. adults and 26% of teens do not have mobile access to the Internet. Unfortunately, the biggest problem is for those who can least afford it - our poor, elderly, less educated or disabled population. This is not acceptable. As a nation, we risk losing their potential contributions and will face the costs of supporting them. We all win if we find effective solutions to connect the disconnected and help them move forward to a better life.
This is extremely important because we now live in an online society. The Internet is an essential tool for education, healthcare, employment, personal development and much more. Did you know that 35% of all new marriages now begin with an online meeting?
For these reasons, Sprint is committed to being a positive force for mobile connectivity in the United States. We recognize digital inclusion as both a civic obligation as well as a corporate opportunity. You will learn more about Sprint’s past and current efforts to help the disconnected through this section of our website.
We believe the greatest opportunity for impact is connecting the disadvantaged youth. Their ability to succeed in life is significantly reduced if they are unable to access the vast resources available to them online. These kids are our future - our employees, customers, educators, parents and leaders. Sprint has identified several broad and high impact opportunities to help these youth including our support of ConnectED, ConnectHome, and My Brother’s Keeper – all of which are government initiatives aimed at bridging the digital divide.
ConnectED is an initiative launched by President Obama to prepare students for the digital economy of the future. Fewer than 40% of America’s schools have the broadband services required to teach using today’s technology. Under ConnectED, 99% of American students, regardless of income, will have access to next generation broadband services by 2018. To answer the President’s challenge, Sprint has committed to offer free wireless service for up to 50,000 low-income high school students over the next four years starting in August 2014, using existing or new educational devices provided by other partners.
Sprint’s high-speed network will give students the ability to access the digital learning curriculum and resources of their educational institutions when outside the school. Phase I of Sprint’s ConnectED commitment includes a $100 million in-kind donation, beginning a four-year effort to provide wireless broadband connectivity for 50,000 low-income students across the U.S. Visit our dedicated ConnectED website for more information.
In July 2015, President Obama announced ConnectHome, an initiative to expand high speed broadband to more families across the country. While many middle-class U.S. students go home to Internet access, allowing them to do research, write papers, and communicate digitally with their teachers and other students, many lower-income children go unplugged every afternoon when school ends. This “homework gap” reinfources the achievement gap, denying hardworking students a level playing field. As part of our existing ConnectED commitment, Sprint will work with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the ConnectHome program to make our free wireless broadband Internet access service program available to eligible K-12 students living in public housing.
My Brother’s Keeper
My Brother’s Keeper (MBK) Alliance is an independent non-profit that aims to eliminate the gaps in opportunity and achievement for boys and young men of color. My Brother’s Keeper initiative includes support from communities, businesses and nonprofits to help expand opportunities for education, volunteerism, and jobs for all youth, including African American and Hispanic boys and young men of color. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure joined the Board of Directors of My Brother’s Keeper in May 2015. As part of this commitment, Sprint also pledged $3 million in wireless connectivity for targeted public schools.
Sprint Foundation and in-kind support
Sprint believes education is the magic bullet for disadvantaged youth. When you pair education with digital access, you can transform learning, energize communities and inspire new and innovative approaches to solve today’s complex challenges. Sprint seeks to identify the best ideas and approaches and then, through a combination of Sprint Foundation and in-kind technology support, increase their odds of success. We have provided more than $17 million toward K-12 educational programming across the country over the past 10 years. View our education fact sheet to learn more about our philanthropic support.
For those who are blind, visually impaired, Deaf, or otherwise hampered in some physical way to communicate effectively, the challenges are particularly acute. Their physical challenges often pose a massive barrier for achieving their educational goals and securing jobs that allow them to contribute most effectively for our nation. That’s why we put so much time and effort into helping meet the connectivity needs of people with disabilities.
Sprint is a market leader in the accessibility space and has been the nation’s premier provider of Telecommunications Relay Services (TRS) for the past 25 years. We work closely with suppliers and manufacturers to create accessible technology that connects them to the world — and to the resources that can best help them move forward to a better life. Our accessible solutions empower everyone to connect, including the blind or visually impaired, the Deaf or those with hearing loss, people with speech, cognitive or mobility disabilities, and the aging population. View our accessibility site for more information.
For those who are at or below the national poverty line, nothing comes easy. If you lack both mobile voice and data connectivity, you are virtually cut off from the rest of the world. Sprint is a market leader in providing voice and text service to qualifying low-income families in the U.S. through our Assurance Wireless service.
Assurance Wireless, a leading Lifeline Assistance Programs, provides mobile voice and text service to those most in need. At the end of 2014, Assurance Wireless was available in more than 40 states, reaching 92% of Lifeline-eligible households. By providing free basic voice and text service, Sprint helps them find jobs, make medical appointments, arrange childcare, and access the essential resources they need to move forward. Assurance Wireless offers data connectivity options as well, but until the Lifeline Assistance Program includes data connectivity, low-income households will not have the full connectivity capabilities they need to access their dreams.
Sprint looks forward to the day where everyone, regardless of income, ability or education, has equal access to the digital world and a path to move forward and achieve their personal goals.