Sprint is gearing up for a full launch of its 1Million Project this month, bringing free devices and wireless connectivity to students across the country.
The first cohort of recipients will include 180,000 low-income high school students across 30 states. Starting August 15, participating students will receive either a free smartphone, tablet, or hotspot device and a service plan with 3 GB of high-speed LTE data and unlimited 2G data per month. Participants will get to keep both the plan and device for up to four years as they work their way through high school.
Sprint’s donation to the project reportedly totals $2.16 billion in wireless service, technical support, and oversight staff over the course of five years.
Sprint said the campaign is aimed at closing the “Homework Gap” to even the playing field for students who lack internet access at home. Sprint CEO Marcelo Claure noted the carrier is “uniquely positioned to help make a difference in these kids’ lives immediately and on a massive level, and that’s exactly what we’re doing.”
“Not every student in our country has the equal opportunity to thrive and grow,” Doug Michelman, president of the 1Million Project, commented. “We are committed to doing our part to level the playing field for all those high school students in need who want to work hard to achieve their goals.”
First year recipients include nearly 6,000 students in New Jersey, more than 8,000 students in Maryland, more than 10,000 students in North Carolina, more than 7,000 students in Georgia, and 20,000 students in Florida. Students in schools run by the New York City Department of Education, Los Angeles Unified School District, Chicago Public Schools, and Phoenix Union High School District 210 will also be participating in the program.
The rollout follows a pilot of the program that started in January and included 4,000 students in 11 cities across Missouri, New Jersey, California, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Texas, Florida, North Carolina, and Illinois.
One student who took part in the pilot said the device and service simplified the homework experience.
“Homework is very difficult to do without any internet at home, so I used to spend countless hours in the computer labs at school or walking to my aunt’s house to finish all of my assignments,” a California student identified only as Marleni reported. “With my hotspot from the 1Million Project, I actually didn’t have to worry about where to go after school, and could get home at a reasonable time and do my homework in my room. I was able to finish high school with tunnel vision on the work I needed to complete, and am now moving on to college to pursue my goals.”
Though the first year of the program is set to get rolling, Sprint noted schools or districts that want to apply for the second year of the project (the 2018-2019 school year) can do so online. Responses will be sent by the spring of next year, the carrier said.
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the program is rolling out in 30 states, rather than the 32 originally mentioned.