Mayor Dean speaks at the launch of the digital inclusion fund

One barrier to student achievement in Nashville is the digital divide. An estimated 44% of Metro Nashville Public Schools (MNPS) students (2012 TESS Survey) lack access to computers or connectivity at home. The achievement gap is defined by socio-economic boundaries, as is the digital divide, so, by creating equitable access to digital resources, we can positively impact the achievement gap.

Anytime Access for All is a collective impact public-private partnership that strives to ensure all MNPS families have:

  • a computing device that can be used both in and out of school,
  • low-cost internet access at home,
  • quality digital literacy training (both in-person classes and on-going self-directed content) and tools to enhance learning and engage families, and
  • sustained support to allow them to take full advantage of these digital tools.

The program is targeted initially to schools that have a high level of blended learning, which is the inclusion of technology in all coursework. Our pilot school is Hunters Lane High School in Madison.

Activities to support implementation of Nashville’s Anytime Access for All initiative have included:

  • Coordination with the Nashville Digital Inclusion Fund, established in February of 2015 through The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee (CFMT), to identify and support high impact digital inclusion initiatives to close the Nashville community’s digital divide. The Fund will grow based on community, business, and government contributions.
  • A gift of used desktop computers by Vanderbilt University, facilitated and augmented by Dell, which has been converted to an expected 2000 refurbished and packaged laptops through our partner organization, ER2.
  • Work with local broadband service and infrastructure providers interested in participating, to facilitate low/no cost internet access opportunities to MNPS families.
  • Comcast has commitment to provide $50,000 in-kind opportunity cards for low-cost internet service and to investigate discounted bulk billing options.
  • Continued discussion with additional providers and EveryoneOn.org for alternative low-cost internet service options for participant families.
  • Creation of an in-person, classroom-based digital literacy training course to be required for each participant parent or guardian by our partner the Nashville Public Library (NPL). NPL will also coordinate an on-going learning management system to deliver the additional, incentivized training courses to program participants.

Current planning includes:

  • Actively engaging community, business, and government partners for awareness and active participation, through financial or volunteer support, of the Nashville Digital Inclusion Fund.
  • Development of an online training and support portal for Anytime Access families.
  • Defining participant tracking mechanisms and program metrics to measure success.
  • Scaling the pilot program to expand its reach across MNPS.