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Digital Equity Campaign Expands Into Grant Co.

The newly launched NKY Digital Equity Initiative is expanding into Grant County.

The program, created by the United Way of Greater Cincinnati, connects local families to the internet for a period of time to assist in virtual learning.

When it was announced earlier this year, its aim was to serve families in the county-wide school districts of Boone, Kenton, and Campbell counties, as well as the independent districts in Covington, Erlanger-Elsmere, Newport, Dayton, Ludlow, Southgate, and Bellevue.

By moving into Grant County, the initiative supplies an additional 128 households with six months of internet service so that students in kindergarten to twelfth grade can fully participate in virtual learning.

The expansion involves Cincinnati Bell and the R.C. Durr Foundation.

The initial pilot aims to serve 884 homes and was funded by Greater Cincinnati Foundation and Horizon Community Funds of Northern Kentucky. United Way is raising additional funding to eventually serve more than 1,000 Northern Kentucky homes under the pilot. The partnership expanding the project into Grant County adds to that.

“Our pilot project is on pace to help more than 1,000 families and we still weren’t meeting the great need,” said Moira Weir, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cincinnati. “We were fortunate to bring everyone together for this expansion. Digital inequity creates unequal access to information, technology and opportunities to learn, which further widens the well-documented achievement gap. We saw this amplified with remote learning under COVID-19.”

Amanda Greenwell, director of United Way’s Northern Kentucky Area Center, said there is still an opportunity to sponsor more homes in need. Organizations and individuals can support Northern Kentucky fund-raising efforts by texting “NKYWIFI” to 71777.  A $78 donation will connect a household for six months of service at $12.99 a month.

“School districts have been eager to enroll in the initiative and ensure their students have access to technology because they know how important this is for both academics and staying connected during COVID-19,” she said. “It plays a part in mental health.”

-Staff report

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