On September 22, we officially launched JerseyOn, a project of EveryoneOn. JerseyOn will work to eliminate the digital, economic, and academic divides by delivering access to high-speed low-cost home Internet, affordable computers, and digital literacy training for the thousands of unconnected people in New Jersey.
“It’s like not having running water or electricity,” said JerseyOn Chair Josh Gottheimer. Not having Internet is a huge barrier to success in today’s economy. Teachers integrate technology into the classroom and employers look for digital literacy skills in potential hires. Students with home Internet have a seven percent higher graduation rate. Those without home access aren’t on the same playing field.
The event took place at Lincoln High School in Jersey City. Lincoln High received a U.S. Department of Education School Improvement Grant to integrate technology into their classrooms. While this has had visible effects, it isn’t enough, especially when so many students can only access the Internet while at school. Once they go home, they’re unconnected again. At the launch, many of the students spoke of the hardships of not having connectivity once they leave school grounds.
“While the school district is able to provide Internet access and laptops during the day, we realize many students do not have Internet access at home. JerseyOn is providing a low-cost solution to help meet this demand,” said Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop.
Traveling around this state these past few months and meeting with schools, municipalities, parents, and students has shown me how needed we are. In Jersey City, students are thrilled with the possibility of doing homework at home. In Salem County parents couldn’t believe that we could actually bring connectivity to the area at a reasonable price. In East Orange the Employment Services were happy to have a tool to help the unemployed get back on their feet. And in suburbs in Bergen and Morris Counties, families who felt like their kids were the only ones without connectivity have the chance to allow their children to compete at the same level as their peers. The needs of each community vary, and we are excited to work with each one to find what best fits them. Together with our service providers we are able to find solutions for everyone.
Kurt Peluso is New Jersey regional manager at EveryoneOn.