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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

United Way Extends NKY Digital Equity Initiative into Pendleton County

125 households in Pendleton County to receive internet access through United Way partnership

United Way of Greater Cincinnati will expand its NKY Digital Equity Initiative for Students into Pendleton County, supplying an estimated 125 additional households with six months of internet service so K-12 students can fully participate in virtual learning.

The expansion partnership involves Cincinnati Bell and The R. C. Durr Foundation. The R. C. Durr Foundation pitched in $5,000 to serve about 200 Pendleton County students. This partnership expands a pilot project serving school districts in Boone County, Kenton County, Campbell County, Grant County, Covington Independent Public Schools, Erlanger-Elsmere Independent, Newport Independent, Dayton Independent, Ludlow Independent, Southgate Independent and Bellevue Independent.

The initial pilot aims to serve 884 homes and was funded by Greater Cincinnati Foundation and Horizon Community Funds. United Way is raising additional funding to eventually serve more than 1,000 Northern Kentucky homes under the pilot. The partnership later expanded to include 128 households in Grant County and now 125 in Pendleton County.

“The demand and public response to that demand have both been tremendous,” said Moira Weir, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cincinnati. “COVID-19 really opened eyes on this topic. We appreciate the support and the recognition of how important digital equity is to school children. Equal access to technology and information helps level the academic playing field and reduce the achievement gap.”

Amanda Greenwell, director of United Way’s Northern Kentucky Area Center, said there is still opportunity to sponsor more homes in need. Organizations and individuals can support Northern Kentucky fund-raising efforts by texting “NKYWIFI” to 71777. A $78 donation will connect a household for six months of service at $12.99 a month.

“We would love to ensure all Northern Kentucky children have internet access,” she said. “COVID-19 has resulted in isolation from teachers, friends, even extended family. This is something that is easy for people to understand and sympathize with.”

Joe Buerkley, superintendent of Pendleton County Schools, is grateful his students have this opportunity. “Pendleton County Schools is excited to partner with The R. C. Durr Foundation, United Way and Cincinnati Bell to address the financial barriers to internet access throughout our community,” he said. “We appreciate their generosity and willingness to support Pendleton County students during this time of remote learning.”

Jean H. Mize of The R. C. Durr Foundation is grateful United Way remains proactive and is able to unite a vast array of resources. “The R. C. Durr Foundation is grateful to United Way of Greater Cincinnati for the coordination efforts with Cincinnati Bell of the Digital Equity Project which will provide internet services to needy school families in Pendleton County during the Coronavirus, she said. “Pendleton County has the advantage of being forward thinking and proactive in problem solving, so I think they will be successful in tackling COVID issues directly.”

Cincinnati Bell sees digital equity as a priority and has eagerly joined partnerships on both sides of the river, labeling the effort “Connect Our Students.”

“All students in Northern Kentucky must have access to the internet to participate in remote learning,” said Leigh Fox, president and CEO of Cincinnati Bell. “We are proud to be part of the ‘Connect Our Students’ program and to be working with so many great organizations and individuals on this effort.”

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