ASU Staff, Students Working to Provide Free Internet Access to Maryvale Families | Featured Articles

PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) — A group of Arizona State University employees and students have come together to share how Maryvale residents can benefit from free Internet access for their children and families.

ASU Watts College of Public Service has partnered with Community Solutions and University Technology Office to launch a pilot program in April 2021 in the Isaac Elementary School District to help families by providing free Wi-Fi for the houses. During the pandemic, some families faced a common problem when kids switched to online learning: no internet access. This caused problems with students unable to do their homework. Some families with broadband could not manage homework online or have multiple children online at the same time. Others had no internet at all.

The Phoenix Digital Education Connection Canopy is a high-speed network designed to provide free Wi-Fi to 250,000 families with students in 13 Phoenix districts. This could pave the way for a national solution.

ASU students are trying to spread the word across the region by spending one Saturday a month going door-to-door to tell residents about the free opportunity. Volunteers also provide families with school supplies to make connections within the Maryvale community.

“Our health care moved online, access to COVID testing and vaccinations, we had to book all of these appointments online,” said Eric Cole, director of Watts College’s design studio. “And then there’s a significant amount of training and job readiness that you can also take online now. It’s really an essential tool for people to access all of this amazing stuff.”

Project officials say that in Maryvale, only 41% of families have internet access. Leaders also say Maryvale has a median household income of less than $37,000, compared to the Phoenix average of $70,000.

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