March 15, 2021
A highly anticipated effort to bring free broadband connectivity, digital literacy and career opportunities in technology to more than 100,000 students and their families was launched earlier today in Miami. Known as Miami Connected, the initiative is a result of a public-private partnership designed to bridge the digital divide for the more than one in five Miami-Dade County residents currently disconnected from the internet.
Ken provided $5 million in leadership funding for the initiative, which represents an extension of the groundbreaking work he championed in Chicago last year and his long history of engagement to drive access to opportunity and upward economic mobility through education.
Ken said, “Connectivity is a lifeline to opportunity—it improves outcomes and gives students and their families critical resources they need to succeed. It is inspiring to see the Miami community come together to address this important issue, and I look forward to continued progress in bridging the digital divide.”
Joining Ken in this critical initiative are Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) Superintendent Alberto M. Carvalho, City of Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez, Miami-Dade County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, The Children’s Trust, philanthropist and Achieve Miami Founder Leslie Miller Saiontz, tech leader eMerge Americas, TD Bank facilitated by the Miami HEAT and Code.org.
City of Miami Mayor Francis X. Suarez said, “Miami Connected is bridging the gap in one of our areas of extreme vulnerability: broadband connection to the most needy. In creating a Miami for everyone we have to ensure that every child in the city of Miami has an opportunity to be successful in the economy of tomorrow. Miami Connected takes a giant leap in that direction. I want to thank Ken Griffin for prioritizing the future of our city.”
PROVIDING RELIABLE HIGH-SPEED INTERNET ACCESS TO STUDENTS WHO NEED IT MOST
Starting this month, Phase One of Miami Connected will provide two years of free broadband internet service to approximately 22,000 eligible M-DCPS students in four Miami-Dade County neighborhoods. The program begins in Overtown and will extend to Little Haiti, Liberty City and Homestead. Phase Two will expand coverage on a school-by-school basis to serve all under-resourced communities in the county where home internet access is severely limited or does not exist. The final phase of the project will identify long-term, cost- effective strategies to maintain broadband internet for all students in need in Miami-Dade.
GREATER MIAMI’S VISION FOR DIGITAL ACCESS
In addition to providing internet service, Miami Connected will teach students and their families the skills necessary to use their devices and become digitally literate. This aspect of the program will be achieved through a community advisory group that will execute grant programs.
Miami Connected will also invest in career pathways that increase diversity and inclusivity in the technology sector. The effort will issue startup grants to help innovators develop new technologies aimed at solving disparity issues in disenfranchised communities.
Superintendent of Schools Alberto M. Carvalho said, “One year after we were forced to temporarily shut down the physical schoolhouse, it is evident that this pandemic has negatively impacted under-resourced neighborhoods much more than others in our community. With 52 percent of M-DCPS students engaging in online learning and the remaining 48 percent in the classroom still heavily relying on consistent broadband access to achieve educational success, high-quality home internet has become a necessity for our region’s young learners.”
OUR COMMITMENT TO OUR COMMUNITIES
Support for this initiative represents a continuation of the commitment the Leadership Team and Citadel have shown to supporting our communities, particularly as it relates to K-12 education. In addition to serving as the convener and lead funder of Chicago Connected last year, Ken has provided millions of dollars to fund the expansion of Saga Education’s evidence-based tutoring program in Chicago and Broward Country, Fla. The program is accelerating learning recovery and addressing persistent opportunity gaps through consistent, personalized, in-school-day math tutoring and mentoring. Ken also recently provided financial support to a grant program designed to meet the immediate needs of Chicago public school leaders and their students as they grapple with the effects of COVID-19, in addition to several other related commitments.
Visit the Miami Connected website for more information.