FACT SHEET: ConnectED: Two Years of Delivering Opportunity to K-12 Schools & Libraries
Two years ago, President Obama announced the ConnectED Initiative, setting an ambitious goal to provide 99 percent of American students with access to next-generation broadband in their classrooms and libraries by 2018. Since that time, the public and private sectors have committed more than $10 billion of total funding and in-kind commitments as part of this five-year effort to transform American education. To leverage this technology, thousands of school and community leaders have pledged to help realize the President’s vision to move America’s schools into the digital age.
ConnectED is on track to achieve its goal of connecting students to tools they need for 21st century learning — and on its two year anniversary, we are announcing additional progress:
- Delivering connectivity funding: This week, the FCC’s E-rate program will award $161 million to bring Wi-Fi and high-speed connectivity to classrooms in over 10,000 schools and over 500 libraries across America. This will bring the total to $470 million that the E-rate program has committed in just the last six weeks to advance and improve access to broadband connectivity and Wi-Fi access this year — part of the over $8 billion in funding the FCC has made available to meet the President’s connectivity goal.
- Catalyzing private-sector impact: As of today, over 3 million students from 10,000 schools in all 50 states are using the software, hardware, wireless connectivity and training resources that are deployed as part of the over $2 billion in private-sector commitments the President announced in 2014.
- Growing the national movement of educators: More than 1,900 superintendents, representing more than 14 million students across all 50 states, have committed to help transform their districts’ teaching and learning in the digital age. As part of that effort, more than 1,800 educational leaders have convened to develop implementation plans at the 11 Future Ready Summits that have happened across the country since February.
- Leveraging libraries and expanding access to reading materials: Non-profits and libraries are partnering with publishers to provide more than $250 million in eBook reading materials to low-income students. More than 30 local communities throughout the Nation are developing programs to ensure library access for all students.
Background on ConnectED
Two years ago, President Obama announced the ConnectED Initiative, outlining an ambitious vision that includes ensuring students have access to broadband in schools and libraries, making devices and high quality digital education content affordable and available to students, and supporting educators as they transition to a digitally-enabled learning environment. With that announcement, the President set a bold goal: to provide 99 percent of American students with access to next-generation broadband in their classrooms and libraries by 2018.
Since then, the public and private sectors have committed more than $10 billion of total value as part of this five-year effort to transform American education. Through its E-rate program, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is funding school and library connectivity with $5 billion over 5 years specifically for Wi-Fi and making available $1.5 billion more in annual E-rate funding to support high-speed connectivity for all schools and libraries, while private-sector companies have committed over $2 billion in hardware, software, wireless service, and teacher training resources. And to ensure these investments are put to good use, thousands of school and community leaders have pledged to make their schools “Future Ready” and realize the President’s vision to move America’s schools into the digital age.
Modernizing E-Rate for High-Speed Broadband & Wireless
The FCC and the E-rate program have been integral to the growth and success of the ConnectED Initiative by providing the infrastructure investment necessary to upgrade schools’ basic connectivity to high-speed, wireless broadband essential to personalized learning.
This began with the Commission’s $2 billion down payment over two years toward the President’s ConnectED goals in early 2014 — over three-quarters of which will be allocated to benefit schools this year. As ConnectED has gained momentum, the FCC took even bolder action by modernizing the E-rate program to serve the needs of students with technology at their desks — not just computer labs — and expanding its annual operating budget by $1.5 billion per year. All told, this means an additional $8 billion in federal support during the President’s five-year timeline to meet the 99 percent connectivity goal.
This funding year, the FCC expects the E-rate program to award a total of almost $4 billion. The FCC’s modernization efforts also include programmatic improvements, such as greater pricing transparency, which will increase the effectiveness of E-rate spending, and a simplified application process for schools and libraries. Together, these improvements are sufficient to expand Wi-Fi networks to nearly all schools and libraries.
Building a Grassroots, National Movement of Future Ready Schools
In November 2014, President Obama joined over 100 superintendents from across the country to launch the Future Ready District pledge. Since then, over 1,900 superintendents have committed their schools to the ConnectED vision of digital learning. These commitments will have a broad impact on digital learning in our nation’s schools, as these superintendents are responsible for over 14 million students across 16,000 schools.
To support these school and community leaders, the U.S. Department of Education has published new resources and guidance on the adoption and implementation of digital resources, including a school technology infrastructure guide and a “Dear Colleague” letter that outlines ways in which current federal education funding can be used to provide professional development, access to high quality digital content, and devices for learning. Additionally, with the support of the LEAD Commission and in partnership with the Alliance for Excellent Education, the U.S. Department of Education has hosted 12 regional summits with participation from over 1,900 educational leaders to support the development and implementation of action plans to use technology to personalize learning in districts in 44 states.
Upgrading Schools with Free Technology and Expertise via Private Sector Commitments
The private sector has joined in this transformation, committing more than $2 billion in 2014 to deliver cutting-edge technologies to classrooms.
- Adobe: Providing more than $300 million worth of free software to teachers and students, including Photoshop and Premiere Elements for creative projects; Presenter and Captivate to amplify e-Learning; EchoSign for school workflow; and a range of teacher training resources.
- Apple: Providing $100 million in iPads, MacBooks, and other products, along with content and professional development tools to enrich learning in disadvantaged U.S. schools.
- AT&T: Pledging more than $100 million to give 50,000 middle and high school students in Title I districts free Internet connectivity for educational devices over their wireless network for three years.
- Autodesk: Pledging to make their 3D design program "Design the Future" available for free in every secondary school in the U.S. — more than $250 million in value.
- Coursera: Providing no-cost online professional development at every school district over the next two years, including opportunities for teachers to earn Coursera’s completion certificates that may be used for continuing education credits.
- edX: Providing all students with free access to online Advanced Placement-level courses offered through edX by over 40 partner institutions like UC Berkeley, MIT, and Georgetown for teacher professional development courses.
- Esri: Providing $ free access to ArcGIS Online Organization accounts – the same Geographic Information Systems mapping technology used by government and business – to every K-12 school in America to allow students to map and analyze data.
- Microsoft: In addition to a significant Windows discount, they are providing free copies of Office 365 Pro to millions of students and providing professional IT training at 2,000 schools to help students attain valuable IT certifications.
- O'Reilly Media: Partnering with Safari Books Online to make more than $100 million in educational content and tools available for free to every school in the U.S.
- Prezi: Providing $100 million in Edu Pro licenses for high schools and all educators across America.
- Sprint: Offering free wireless service for up to 50,000 low-income high school students over the next four years, valued at $100 million.
- Verizon: Announcing a multi-year program to support the ConnectED vision through up to $100 million in cash and in-kind commitments.
These private sector leaders have been working with The Learning Accelerator, Digital Promise and EveryoneOn to communicate, coordinate and deliver these transformative technologies to school districts across America.
Ensuring Every Student has Access to High-Quality eBooks
e-Books Initiative: In April 2015 the President announced a new eBook initiative to create a world-class digital library that is available to students aged 4-18 from low-income families. eBooks offer the promise of expanding learning beyond the classroom walls, and represent a key component of the President’s plan to transform education in America. Publishers have committed over $250 million in free eBooks to support this initiative. These publishers include:
- Bloomsbury: Providing unlimited access to over 1,000 of its most popular titles.
- Candlewick: Providing unlimited access to all relevant e-book titles in their catalog.
- Cricket Media: Offering full digital access to all of its magazines for children and young adults, including Ladybug and Cricket.
- Hachette: Offering participating students access to a robust catalogue of their popular and award-winning titles.
- HarperCollins: Providing a robust selection of their award-winning and popular titles.
- Lee & Low: Publisher of multicultural books is providing unlimited access to over 700 of its titles.
- Macmillan: Providing unlimited access to all of the K-12 age-appropriate titles in their catalog of approximately 2,500 books.
- Penguin Random House: Committing to provide a robust offering of their popular and award-winning books.
- Simon & Schuster: Providing access to their entire e-catalog of books for children ages 4-14, comprised of 3,000 titles.
Non-profits and library entities are also playing central roles in the eBook initiative:
- New York Public Library is developing a cutting-edge e-reader app that will provide access to this universe, including both the contributions from these publishers as well as hundreds of classics already in the public domain.
- Digital Public Library of America is creating a network of librarians who are volunteering to make sure books reach the most appropriate audience.
- First Book, a book-donation non-profit, will provide authentication and delivery services to ensure eBooks reach students in low-income families.
- Institute of Museum and Library Services is investing $5 million to support the development of the e-reader app and other tools and services to help the public access digital content.
Connecting Every Student to Libraries’ Vital Learning Resources
ConnectED Library Challenge: Announced in April 2015, the ConnectED Library Challenge calls upon library directors to work with their mayors, school leaders, and school librarians to create and strengthen partnerships so that every child enrolled in school can receive a library card. Over 30 major cities and counties have announced they are taking the challenge, which will also include a promise to support student learning through programming that develops their language, reading, and critical thinking; provide digital resources, such as eBooks and online collections of traditional media; and provide broadband connectivity and wireless access within library facilities. The Institute of Museum and Library Services, the Urban Libraries Council, and the American Library Association are supporting the implementation of the Challenge.