William Penn Foundation Supports Equitable Internet Access for Philadelphia Students

Great Learning

William Penn Foundation Supports Equitable Internet Access for Philadelphia Students

Posted: Thursday, August 6, 2020
Source: William Penn Foundation

To our grantees and partners:

The City of Philadelphia today announced PHLConnectED, a multi-year program to help ensure all Philadelphia students have internet access for this coming school year and beyond.

As our region continues to confront the COVID-19 pandemic, many of you have worked tirelessly to adapt and provide programs and connections online to help children and families continue to learn, grow, and thrive. Yet, some families lost contact with important programs due to a lack of reliable internet access. This past spring, contrary to our long-standing goal, inequities grew in our education system, as some children had limited or no access to virtual schooling and other programs. This fall, almost all of our city’s students will continue to need the ability to get online from their homes – a modern-day essential that is out of reach for thousands of Philadelphia households.

The William Penn Foundation has long supported more equitable educational opportunities in Philadelphia, and we have been in conversations for several months about how to alleviate the digital divide. This morning, our Board of Directors approved a $1 million grant to support PHLConnectED. The program will provide reliable internet access to approximately 35,000 households, including portable options for the significant number of students who experience housing instability. And, while this program will meet the needs of school students, it will also provide essential connections for the entire household as they access online resources, job opportunities, and social connections.

We are pleased to join with the City, Comcast NBCUniversal Foundation, Lenfest Foundation, Neubauer Family Foundation, and Philadelphia School Partnership in committing substantial resources to ensure that lack of internet access is not a barrier to students’ education and families’ success.

Our thanks to all of you who have spoken up about this issue and who continue to spotlight injustices that demand our society’s attention. We remain committed to supporting the critical needs of our region in pursuit of an inclusive and equitable COVID-19 recovery.


Janet Haas, M.D.

Board Chair