- Based on a needs report submitted by school officials, more than 25,000 students in Maine are at risk of falling behind academically every day because their homes don’t have internet access that would enable them to take part in the remote learning made necessary during the COVID-19 crisis. Now, the Bangor Savings Bank Foundation is stepping forward to help with this digital divide. Today the Foundation announced a grant of $50,000 to Connect Kids Now new initiative put forth by the Maine Department of Education aimed at helping bridge the gap of this online inequity.
“The digital divide Maine students are dealing with is a serious issue and the impacts are made more pronounced by the COVID-19 Pandemic. It’s important that we help any way we can,” said President and CEO of Bangor Savings Bank Bob Montgomery-Rice. “Supporting the continued academic success of our students right now means we’re also supporting a bridge to their future and the future of our communities.”
The Foundation’s $50,000 grant to the Connect Kids Now initiative might be used in one of three ways:
- Cover the cost of connectivity at home for 500 students through end of school year
- Provide devices with hotspots and cover connectivity costs for 500 students
- Help purchase 500 devices to distribute to students
Along with support from the business and philanthropic community, the Connect Kids Now initiative is also enlisting the support from state and federal resources to make sure all Maine students can fully engage in remote, continuous learning. Most of the estimated 25,000 students in Maine being left behind by this digital divide are predominantly lower income students, are students of color, or live in rural regions of the state.
The Foundation also announced a $5,000 donation directly to the Bangor School Department, supporting similar internet and device needs for students in the Bangor School system.
“During the past month of remote learning, our teachers and families have been doing everything they can to make sure students don’t fall behind, but when there is a technological gap, students are missing a basic provision for their learning,” said Maine Dept. of Education Commissioner Pender Makin. “Without access to the internet, the unfortunate reality is some students are at a disadvantage, without access to the online learning platforms of their peers. This grant by the Bangor Savings Bank Foundation will help alleviate that and for that, we are grateful.”