The non-profit organization Connected Nation has signed on to administer the selection process for AT&T’s $100 million commitment to provide free mobile broadband Internet access to select middle and high school students in Title 1 schools across the country.

AT&T’s contribution is part of the ConnectED Initiative announced by President Barack Obama a year ago. The goal of the ConnectED Initiative is to have 99 percent of America’s students to next-generation broadband and high-speed wireless in their schools and libraries within five years. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and companies like Apple, Microsoft, Sprint, signed on early, and have pledged up to $750 million in resources for the program.

ConnectED parallels other White House efforts such as “Educate to Innovate.” Time Warner Cable (TWC) is participating in that program through its Connect a Million Minds (CAMM) initiative, which recently reached its goal of connecting one million young people to hands-on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) learning opportunities and resources.

Pledges to connect a million minds to STEM were collected through the CAMM website, where parents, educators, and mentors also recorded stories of how they introduced students to STEM activities.

Connected Nation’s administration of the AT&T program marks its entry into the ConnectED Inititiative. The organization launched an online application portal that will allow school districts to compete for an award under the program in which AT&T is participating.

IAs mobile devices create new opportunities to personalize learning and extend it beyond the classroom, AT&T’s three-year $100 million commitment will provide 50,000 middle and high school students in Title I and other low-income schools with an opportunity to connect, learn, and interact no matter where they are. 

“Connected Nation is honored to play a role in administering AT&T’s bold ConnectED initiative commitment,” said Connected Nation President Tom Ferree. “Connected Nation has long championed that unlocking the potential of digital learning requires that students have the ability to connect both on and off-campus. This program provides an unprecedented opportunity for schools to extend learning beyond the classroom door and fully realize the many ways in which mobile technology can enhance teaching and learning.” 

When connected to AT&T’s mobile broadband service, students will be able to use tablets and other school-provided mobile devices for educational purposes that support student learning in new and more effective ways. Specifically, AT&T’s ConnectED contribution will include:

  • 4G mobile broadband data services for student access to learning-based websites, applications, and services;
  • Mobile device management to support tracking and usage of devices;
  • Security software to protect access, safety, and security of students;
  • Solution integration for schools to support device configuration, logistics and care services; and
  • Training for teachers and administrators on effective ways to integrate this solution into classrooms and learning.

School applications will be evaluated in three phases, with Phase 1 applications due on July 15, 2014.  Phase 2 evaluations will commence in in late fall 2014, while Phase 3 will take place in late spring 2015.