Cincinnati (July 27, 2020) — United Way of Greater Cincinnati will expand its NKY Digital Equity Initiative for Students into Grant County, supplying 128 additional households with six months of internet service so K-12 students can fully participate in virtual learning.
The expansion partnership involves Cincinnati Bell and The RC Durr Foundation. United Way and The Durr Foundation each pitched in $5,000 to serve the Grant County households. This partnership expands on a pilot project serving school districts in Boone County, Kenton County, Campbell County, Covington Independent Public Schools, Erlanger-Elsmere Independent, Newport Independent, Dayton Independent, Ludlow Independent, Southgate Independent and Bellevue Independent.
The initial pilot aims to serve 884 homes and was funded by Greater Cincinnati Foundation and Horizon Community Funds. United Way is raising additional funding to eventually serve more than 1,000 Northern Kentucky homes under the pilot. The partnership expanding the project into Grant County adds to that.
“Our pilot project is on pace to help more than 1,000 families and we still weren’t meeting the great need,” said Moira Weir, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cincinnati. “We were fortunate to bring everyone together for this expansion. Digital inequity creates unequal access to information, technology and opportunities to learn, which further widens the well-documented achievement gap. We saw this amplified with remote learning under COVID-19.”
Amanda Greenwell, director of United Way’s Northern Kentucky Area Center, said there is still an opportunity to sponsor more homes in need. Organizations and individuals can support Northern Kentucky fund-raising efforts by texting “NKYWIFI” to 71777. A $78 donation will connect a household for six months of service at $12.99 a month.
“School districts have been eager to enroll in the initiative and ensure their students have access to technology because they know how important this is for both academics and staying connected during COVID-19,” she said. “It plays a part in mental health.”
Jean H. Mize of The R.C. Durr Foundation agreed.
“The R. C. Durr Foundation is delighted to work with our friends at United Way of Greater Cincinnati to help provide internet service to the school families in Grant County during the COVID-19 pandemic to keep families healthy and children learning,” she said. “R. C. Durr grew up in southern Kenton County next to Grant County and I think the 'can do' nature of people in that area will see them through this difficult time with a little bit of help.”
Matt Morgan, superintendent of Grant County Schools, said “I am grateful for the partnership with Cincinnati Bell, the United Way, and the RC Durr foundation and for their contribution to the students of Grant County. This service will provide opportunities for our students that they would not have had without this generous donation. As a district, we will continue to work with our community partners to find ways to remove any barriers our students may face as they return to us for the 2020-2021 school year.”
Cincinnati Bell sees digital equity as a priority and has eagerly joined partnerships on both sides of the river, labeling the effort “Connect Our Students.”
“It is critical that all students in Northern Kentucky have access to education – which means that all students must also have access to the internet to participate in remote learning,” said Leigh Fox, president and CEO of Cincinnati Bell. “We are proud to be part of the ‘Connect Our Students’ program and to be working with so many great organizations and individuals on this effort.”