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Electronic Access for All: Princeton Public Schools Launches New Computer and Wifi Lending Program for Students in Need

Participants in the district's new laptop lending program get tips from teacher Daniel Scibienski at a training session held at the John Witherspoon Middle School.
Participants in the district’s new laptop lending program get tips from teacher Daniel Scibienski at a training session held at the John Witherspoon Middle School.

Students from low-income families who do not have computers or Internet access at home are at a disadvantage when it comes to doing homework and increasing their computer skills.

Recognizing the importance of the issue, the Princeton Public Schools district, in partnership with the Princeton Education Foundation, has launched a new lending program in an effort to close the digital divide. The program provides all eligible students in the district with free Internet access and laptop computers.

“This program is an extraordinary step forward in ensuring both equity and excellence in the Princeton Public Schools,” said Princeton Superintendent Stephen Cochrane. “By providing electronic access for all, we are not only closing the achievement gap but accelerating our ability to move forward in the use of educational technology for every student.”

The goal of the program is to ensure that all students in the district, regardless of economic means, have sufficient access to online educational resources to build their academic skills, facilitate their communication between home and school, and increase their knowledge about the community, nation and the world. The students in the program can now complete computer-based assignments and conduct academic research at home.

Eligibility in the program is determined by a student’s enrollment in the federal free and reduced meals program or the family’s demonstration of other financial needs. The program is designed so that siblings in the same family may individually receive laptop and Internet access and data.

For the pilot program, twenty students in the district received laptops and a Wifi hotspot through the Sprint network, including three gigabytes of Internet data each month at no cost. Funding for this initiative was provided by the Princeton Education Foundation. The program will be expanded to serve close to 200 eligible students across the district.

The pilot program was accompanied by a training session at John Witherspoon Middle School for the first group of participating families, with more sessions to be scheduled as the program expands.

 

Krystal Knapp

Krystal Knapp is the founding editor of Planet Princeton. She can be reached via email at editor AT planetprinceton.com. Send all letters to the editor and press releases to that email address.

  • John Heilner

    Congratulations to the School Board, Steve Cochrane, and everyone else who is making this program possible! The digital divide, especially among children, is surely one of the most intransigent obstacles to true equality of opportunity in our country today. I am proud to see that Princeton is doing what we can to overcome it.

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