RPS students receive free tablets in effort to help close ‘homework gap’

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond Public Schools (RPS) and the City of Richmond are teaming up with Sprint to give RPS high school freshman students free tablets with internet service.

This is part of Sprint’s 1Million Project to help close the “homework gap,” by providing one million free devices and wireless service to high school students who can’t complete their schoolwork at home because they lack internet access.

Sprint kicked off the project at George Wythe High School Thursday morning, where 50 freshmen received their tablets. Mayor Levar Stoney said this is just the first step to provide students with the resources they need to be successful.

“A number of our low income students go home every day unable to do their homework and do their school work and now we’re going to close that divide and hopefully close that achievement gap as well,” Stoney said.

Jamonte Swain, 14, was one of the students who received a tablet Thursday. Swain said he wants to be a doctor when he grows up and hopes that having the tablet will help him get on the right track to reach his goal.

“I feel excited because most people don’t get this opportunity,” Swain said. “I just want to say thank you. Thank you very much.”

Interim Superintendent Thomas Kranz released the following statement Wednesday afternoon:

“Richmond Public Schools is pleased to have the opportunity to partner with Sprint on this initiative to increase our efforts in providing equitable educational opportunities for our students. We appreciate the support of the mayor and the City of Richmond in helping us to level the ‘learning field’ and eliminate the homework gap by ensuring that our students who do not have internet access at home receive these devices as an additional learning resource. This collaborative partnership will positively impact the academic success of our students.”

According to RPS’ press release, about 70 percent of high school teachers assign homework to be completed online, yet more than 5 million families with kids do not have internet access at home.

RPS is one of 118 school districts across the country participating. The school district will receive 1,050 tablets every year to distribute to freshmen for the next five years.

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