Philadelphia Expands PHLConnectED to Pre-K Households
Philadelphia's program offers free high-speed internet to qualifying students
Philadelphia expanded PHLConnectED, a program that offers free high-speed internet to eligible students, to families with children in prekindergarten last week. The city launched the program, which was previously only available to K-12 students, last fall to support remote learning through the pandemic. City officials reported that as of the end of March 2021, PHLConnectED has provided more than 15,000 internet connections.
PHLConnectED, which will continue through summer 2022, offers reliable internet through Comcast’s Internet Essentials program and, for families who are housing-insecure, high-speed mobile hotspots from T-Mobile. The program also distributes devices including Chromebooks, tablets and computers and provides digital skills training and tech support. Participants do not pay any out-of-pocket expenses or installation fees.
Over the past many months, the city has worked to expand the program to families with a child in pre-K as some students continue to work remotely. Other members of qualifying households will also be able to access the internet.
Pre-K students now qualify for PHLConnectED if they do not have internet access, have mobile internet access only, are experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity or are participating in remote learning in locations without internet access.
Households that already have internet access are also eligible for PHLConnectED if they participate in public benefit programs with income qualifications like Medicaid, have students designated as English learners or have students who receive special education services.
To find out more information about the program, families can dial 2-1-1 to be connected to the PHLConnectED hotline that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The city created the hotline, which is available in over 150 languages, in collaboration with United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.