San Francisco, CA – U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Julián Castro and Common Sense CEO James P. Steyer announced today that Common Sense has become a national participant in HUD’s ConnectHome initiative, a public-private collaboration to connect families living in HUD-assisted housing to affordable high-speed Internet.
Under the new commitment to ConnectHome, Common Sense will make available through on-the-ground training and online webinars a suite of its high quality digital citizenship resources, including Connecting Families, Digital Compass and Digital Passport. Common Sense is a recognized national leader in digital literacy and other media and technology issues affecting children, teachers and parents. Common Sense digital literacy and citizenship materials are used in more than 100,000 schools by more than 300,000 teachers.
The announcement comes on the same day that Secretary Castro visited Common Sense’s headquarters in San Francisco to discuss the initiative with staff Common Sense Kids Action, Common Sense Education, and CEO Steyer.
In July, President Obama and Secretary Castro announced ConnectHome as one of several federal efforts designed to reduce digital inequality in schools and homes across the country. ConnectHome, led in the private sector by national non-profit EveryoneOn, offers broadband access, technical training, digital literacy programs, and devices for residents in HUD-assisted housing in 28 communities across the nation.
“Through ConnectHome, we are able to provide more Americans with the opportunity to remain competitive with communities across the globe,” said Secretary Castro. “Common Sense’s new commitment of digital content benefits the entire family – empowering kids to think critically and giving parents the peace of mind to know that their children are safely participating in the digital world.”
“Kids begin their day learning in the classroom, but their education continues at home, which is why it is so important for every family to have broadband access,” said Steyer. “We are proud to participate with EveryoneOn and HUD’s ConnectHome initiative to provide families with the information they need to help their kids take advantage of all that technology has to offer while helping them make safe and smart decisions along the way.”
While most Americans take high-speed Internet for granted, more than 5 million households with school-aged children in the U.S. do not have it. And research shows that lower-income and minority communities have lower broadband adoption rates than the population at large. But expanding access to broadband has also been shown to boost educational, economic and health outcomes, making ConnectHome and other efforts to reduce the ‘homework gap’ and digital inequality vitally important steps toward boosting educational achievement and reducing income inequality in America.
EveryoneOn CEO Zach Leverez welcomed Common Sense’s role in ConnectHome. “Low-income families are increasingly being left behind in the digital world because they can't yet afford what we consider a basic right: high-speed home Internet access. Thanks to ConnectHome, hundreds of thousands of families will now be able to afford access to the Internet at home, providing all kids with the same opportunities, even when not at school. Common Sense’s commitment to providing customized training, resources, and free digital learning content to HUD-assisted residents is key to realizing the ConnectHome vision for solutions that empower families not only with the technology, but also the skills and resources required to be successful."
Common Sense will provide for free its high-quality digital citizenship content for families and children, in-person in select communities and online to all 28 ConnectHome communities. The content is available in English and Spanish, and includes an array of resources, including videos, tipsheets, case studies, facilitator guides, and video games that support and empower adults and children to think critically, participate responsibly, and behave ethically in their online lives.
In addition to ConnectHome, Common Sense advocated for and is now working to finish the job of ensuring access to high-speed Internet in every classroom and library under the Federal Communication Commission’s newly modernized E-Rate program. And Common Sense strongly supports the FCC’s plan to modernize the 40-year-old Lifeline low-income telephone service program to include broadband.
“Common Sense believes that high-speed Internet today is a necessity, not a luxury, and that every child deserves equal access to technology no matter their zip-code or family income,” Steyer said.
About Common Sense: With more than 300,000 teacher members in nearly 100,000 schools and millions of parent users at home, Common Sense rates, educates and advocates on behalf of parents, teachers and kids to help them navigate in a world of media and technology and to ensure all children have the opportunity to thrive in the 21st Century. Common Sense’s education division provides teachers and schools with free research-based classroom tools to help students harness technology for learning and life. And its K–12 Digital Citizenship Curriculum teaches students how to make safe, smart, and ethical decisions in the digital world. Learn more at: www.commonsensemedia.org
About EveryoneOn: EveryoneOn is a national nonprofit that aims to eliminate the digital divide by making high-speed, low-cost Internet, computers and free digital literacy training accessible to all unconnected U.S. residents. Learn more at: www.EveryoneOn.org