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New $50M program offering free internet service to thousands of LAUSD families

A new $50 million program was unveiled Tuesday, designed to provide free internet service to thousands of low-income families in the Los Angeles Unified School District.

The All Families Connected program, in partnership with local providers such as Spectrum and AT&T, will give households 12 months of free internet access through LAUSD.

50M program offering free internet service to thousands of LAUSD families

“We will guarantee that every single student, every single family, across all of LAUSD…will have access to high-speed internet at home,” LAUSD Superintendent Alberto Carvalho said in a news conference at Bell Senior High School Tuesday. “This is not through hotspots. These are hardwired connectivity systems they will bring the power of high-speed internet to every single residence in LAUSD.”

Carvalho called it a “service with no questions asked.” Families can sign up for the program online or over the phone.

“Parents can either call a counselor or principle at any school and simply say, ‘I need to be connected,'” Carvalho said

He believes that All Families Connect will “forever eradicate the digital deserts” in neighborhoods such as East L.A. and South L.A.

$48 million of the program’s $50 million budget is coming from federal funding.

LAUSD Board Member Tanya Ortiz Franklin discussed the challenges that many families faced during the pandemic because of a lack of internet access.

“Back in the pandemic, when I first started as a board member, we would see teaching and learning happen online,” Franklin said. “And some kids could only connect through the auditory, some kids could only connect through video, and some kids would see ‘connecting…’ for the entire 50 minutes of a period. That was absolutely unjust.”

High school student Andrea Maciel told CBSLA she and her brother were unable to keep up with their classes during the pandemic because their mother could not afford internet service.

“Sometimes, to be honest, we didn’t join the Zoom because we didn’t have Wi-Fi,” Maciel said. “Sometimes the library would also be closed in the morning, so we couldn’t really be on time.”

Maciel said she still relies on the hotspot that was given to her before the pandemic.

“I feel like it’s the same thing. Because at school, they still offer us to do work on the Chromebook, which is still online,” Maciel said.

Carvalho also announced a program to provide 100,000 devices, such as laptops and tablets, to students over the next 18 months, so they can connect both at school and at home. That will also be funded through federal money.