For Immediate Release
CONTACT: Marshall Spevak (MWWPR)
New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund Donates 1,200 Wi-Fi Hotspots to Trenton School District
Donation is Part of a Broader Effort to Close the Digital Gap
September 1, 2020 – Trenton, NJ.
The New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund has donated 1,200 wi-fi hotspots to the Trenton school district, which will allow students to access online learning when city schools reopen remotely in September.
Families will receive a T-Mobile hotspot and one year of wi-fi service, which runs $20 per month, a cost that many underprivileged families in Trenton cannot afford, said Trenton School District Superintendent Ronald Lee.
“We are extremely grateful to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund for providing the funding to give free wi-fi hot spots and service for a year to 1200 Trenton students and families,” Lee said. “Since we will be opening remotely this fall, it is vitally important that all students have wi-fi access so they can connect and continue to learn.”
Although the district distributed more than 5,000 Chromebooks in the spring when state schools closed as the coronavirus began to take hold in New Jersey, the district identified at least 1,200 students who were not able to access classroom instruction because they lacked broadband access.
While the coronavirus has been in retreat in New Jersey since it peaked in April, it still remains a major health threat. As a result, schools throughout New Jersey have opted to begin the year with a combination of in-person and remote learning.
However, thousands of students across New Jersey do not have access to wi-fi. Many of those students live in poorer urban communities such as Trenton, Newark, Paterson, Camden, Plainfield, Atlantic City and Elizabeth. The “digital divide” has become a major barrier to ensuring all students have access to remote learning.
The donation to the Trenton school district is part of a broader effort by NJPRF to close the digital divide in New Jersey. NJPRF is currently working with other school districts in New Jersey to assess their digital needs and plans to announce its support for additional districts in the coming weeks.
“The digital divide is a real issue in New Jersey and while this donation to the Trenton district doesn’t begin to address the needs statewide, we hope it inspires others to consider donating to the fund so we can ensure every student in the state is able to access learning,” said New Jersey First Lady Tammy Murphy, the founding chair of the Fund.
The DOE has already made available $10 million in grants using a portion of the State’s federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds.
Once philanthropic and ESSER Fund grants have been exhausted, the Murphy administration plans to redirect up to $44 million in Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) funds to close any remaining gaps for public school students and $6 million for non-public schools.
The Murphy administration said it was critical to exhaust philanthropic opportunities and CARES Act funding prior to filling remaining gaps with CRF funds. “This will ensure that CRF funds can be efficiently directed to address as many critical needs as possible,” the governor’s office has said.
Among the donors who contributed to the NJPRF to specifically support the Trenton wi-fi initiative are TD Bank Foundation, Smith Family Foundation of New Jersey, NJM Insurance, Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Charitable Fund Inc. and PNC Bank.
“We are grateful to those who donated to the Trenton wi-fi project,” NJPRF CEO Josh Weinreich said. “The pandemic has brought into focus the importance of technology in schools. Every dollar donated to this effort directly benefits students by ensuring they have the ability to continue learning.”
“Equipping students and their families with the resources they need to succeed is essential,” said Mitch Livingston, NJM President and CEO. “NJM is proud to support the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund and its efforts to ensure that all Trenton students are able to participate, engage and learn in their new online classrooms.”
“The TD Charitable Foundation is dedicated to sustaining the well-being and financial security of our communities, and that starts with equal access to education,” said Chris Giamo, head of Commercial Bank, TD Bank. “The pandemic and shift to school from home has brought into focus the disparities in internet access and home support in New Jersey and our country. TD is pleased to contribute $75,000 to help all local children stay on track with their schooling.”
“Access to WiFi hotspots represent a significant barrier to participating in online learning. Helping to provide WiFi services that connect families and young learners to educational resources is a great example of why PNC became an early supporter of the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund,” said Linda Bowden, New Jersey regional president for PNC Bank.
“This is about making an impact,” Bowen said. “At a time when it has never been more critical, supporting the education of young learners and helping strengthen underserved communities in our Capitol Region is simply the right thing to do.”
“The Smith Family Foundation NJ is committed to improving the educational outcomes of our hometown,” said Katherine N. Nunnally, the executive director and CEO of the Smith Family Foundation NJ.
“Personally (the Smith Family), as graduates of Trenton Public Schools, it is truly a blessing to be in a position to provide funding to help close the digital divide for children in the city of Trenton! The partnership with New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund will afford all Trenton youth the opportunity to receive the remote education they deserve.”
“On behalf of Gwendolyn and Joseph Straus Charitable Fund, we are honored to contribute to the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund and the efforts by First Lady Tammy Murphy to support our most vulnerable residents,” said Daniel E. Straus, founder of CareOne, LLC.
“The impact from COVID-19 has been devastating for thousands of families across the state, medically and economically, and we’re proud to play a role to provide essential services and aid to those in need,” Straus said. “The fight against coronavirus is far from over, and there’s much more to be done to assist those in New Jersey impacted the hardest.”
About the New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund (NJPRF)
The New Jersey Pandemic Relief Fund (NJPRF) was launched March 24, 2020 to marshal resources to meet critical needs and fight the economic and social impact of COVID-19 within New Jersey.
NJPRF will provide grants to existing organizations with a demonstrated track record of caring for vulnerable communities. One hundred percent of every dollar received online by NJPRF will go to organizations that provide essential services to those in need and to assist those on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
NJPRF is proud to be hosted by the Community Foundation of New Jersey, which has been serving the needs of New Jersey non-profits and philanthropists for more than 40 years.