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Community EngagementEducation

Connected Futures: Bridging the digital divide in Detroit

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In March of 2020, when COVID-19 closed school districts across the country, it wreaked havoc on the lives of children and families in many communities.

But it hit children in Detroit especially hard.

While students in many districts could continue their education from home online, that wasn’t an option for most of the 51,000 students in Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD). An estimated 85 to 90% of DPSCD students lacked the devices and internet access essential to continue learning.

Leaders in the Detroit community saw the educational crisis DPSCD students faced and came together to determine how to address the problem. The W.K. Kellogg Foundation joined together with leaders from DTE Energy, the Detroit Branch NAACP, DPSCD and other partners to develop a solution.

Immediately, the public and private partners joined together in an initiative called Connected Futures, setting the ambitious goal of raising $23 million to bridge the digital divide for DPSCD students during the pandemic. As part of Connected Futures, nearly 50 organizations across the region collaborated to keep Detroit’s students learning. In addition to financial contributions, Kellogg Foundation staff served on the partnership’s governance and communications committees to ensure success of the undertaking.

By September, the $23 million fundraising goal had been met, all devices had been purchased and 47,000 – more than 87% of them – had been deployed to Detroit students.

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