Giving Compass' Take:

• Katie Pyzyk, at Smart Cities Dive, highlights an innovative remote learning initiative in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that focuses on bridging the digital divide in schools.

• How can we learn from agendas like this one in order to continue bridging the digital divide both during and after the pandemic? What are you doing to help get students access to remote learning resources in your community?

• Find resources to help you support remote learning initiatives aimed at bridging the digital divide.

A public-private partnership between the school district in Hamilton County, TN, where Chattanooga is the county seat, and municipally-owned power and telecom provider EPB will provide more than 28,000 students with free high-speed internet service at home. The program ensures students will have internet access during the school year, with at least a portion of the year already-planned to be remote.

Students and their families can apply for the program if they qualify for the federal free or reduced-priced meals program, which is about two-thirds of the students in Hamilton County. The household will receive a free router and 100 Mpbs fiber internet with no data caps.

The digital divide has received renewed attention during the pandemic. People who can't afford internet service are excluded from home schooling, remote work, entertainment and digital interpersonal connections. The chasm has arguably grown deeper during the pandemic because those without internet often haven't been able to visit access points such as offices, libraries, restaurants and stores where they might typically get connected.

The Hamilton County program stands out from other initiatives because it supplies in-home internet as opposed to Wi-Fi hotspots, plus students receive high-speed fiber service and not merely a standard connection.

Programs like this also help everyone else within the household, and that's intentional, said Scottie Summerlin, public relations coordinator at EPB. "This will not only help students, but it will help their families — like their parents, if they have to work virtually or job search or use telehealth services," Summerlin said. The initiative is a more holistic approach to addressing the digital divide issue.

Read the full article about bridging the digital divide in remote learning by Katie Pyzyk at Smart Cities Dive.