Mark Zuckerberg’s Startup:Education and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Lead
Multi-Year Philanthropic Investment to Connect Every K-12 Student
SAN FRANCISCO – December 4, 2013 – EducationSuperHighway, the nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing high speed broadband to the nation’s K-12 public schools, today announced that it is launching a comprehensive national effort to
upgrade America’s schools. Mark Zuckerberg’s Startup:Education, the Gates Foundation and several other foundations and education entities are making a multi-year investment in EducationSuperHighway’s mission to ensure all students
have equal access to the promise of digital learning.
“Game changing technologies are transforming teaching and learning, but over 40 million students are being left behind without the Internet access and Wi-Fi they need to take full advantage of digital learning.,” said Evan Marwell, CEO of
EducationSuperHighway. “If we want our children to be competitive in the global knowledge economy, we must upgrade the Internet infrastructure in America’s public schools.”
“We’re thrilled that the business and education communities share our vision for a high-speed future for our K-12 students. These strategic investments will accelerate our ability to raise awareness, reform policy and assist school districts with
upgrades,” said Jonathan Kaplan, EducationSuperHighway’s Board Chairman.
“When schools and teachers have access to reliable Internet connections, students can discover new skills and ideas beyond the classroom,” said Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook founder and CEO. “The future of our economy and society depend largely on the next generation using and building new online tools and services, and I’m glad to support EducationSuperHighway’s work.”
72% of U.S. Schools Lack Needed Bandwidth
Over the last 12 months, 600,000 students, teachers and administrators have taken one minute to test their school’s Internet access as part of EducationSuperHighway’s National SchoolSpeedTest (www.schoolspeedtest.org). The results to date show that 72% of America’s public schools lack the broadband they need for digital learning. Twenty-six state departments of education are already participating in the free SchoolSpeedTest program and EducationSuperHighway hopes to run programs with the remaining states by the end of the school year. Whether or not a state department of education is participating, any member of a school community (teacher, student, administrator or parent) can test their school’s Internet access by running the one-minute test at www.schoolspeedtest.org.
Federal Policy Makers Modernizing K-12 Broadband Policy
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is taking action to connect 99% of America’s K-12 students to gigabit broadband and robust Wi-Fi. Key to these actions is the modernization of the FCC’s $2.4 billion per year E-rate program. Erate
has provided the funding to ensure that nearly all schools have access to the Internet, but needs to be updated to ensure the program can provide the gigabit speeds schools need to power media-rich digital content and web-based instruction.
Currently, the FCC is evaluating E-rate reform and seeking input for better use of these funds. EducationSuperHighway is advancing pragmatic solutions to modernize, expand and strengthen the successful E-rate program by focusing its mission on broadband; investing in upgrades to connect every school to fiber and every classroom to Wi-Fi; and increasing transparency and accountability to reduce costs and improve efficiency.
Call to Action
EducationSuperHighway is encouraging state and local policy makers to join twenty-six states and thousands of school districts in the national effort to bring high-speed Internet access to America’s K-12 students. The first step is to take an
inventory of the Internet access available to their students by participating in EducationSuperHighway’s free National SchoolSpeedTest (www.schoolspeedtest.org). In addition, EducationSuperHighway encourages school superintendents and school board members to contact their local representatives to voice their support for modernizing the E-rate program.