AT&T and Connected Nation provide 35,000 hotspots and free internet service to help vulnerable students

Bowling Green, Ky. (August 11, 2021) – Leading nonprofit Connected Nation, which is based in Bowling Green and is celebrating 20 years of service in 2021, has completed the deployment of 35,000 hotspots. Made possible by a contribution from AT&T – these hotspots, equipped with more than a year of free internet service – will help some of the most vulnerable students across the country.

“AT&T made a $10 million commitment in 2020 to help our nation’s most at-risk children access remote learning and the company has delivered on that promise,” said Tom Ferree, Chairman & CEO, Connected Nation. “The AT&T Connected Learning program is not only putting devices and services into the hands of students, but it’s focused on helping those who are facing some of the most difficult challenges that a child could endure —such as living in foster care or experiencing homelessness. It’s been exciting to work with AT&T to create positive change in the lives of these very deserving students who were struggling to access their online classrooms.”

AT&T committed $10 million to respond to the need for increased at-home connectivity for students during the pandemic, and worked with Connected Nation to make it happen. The program officially opened in November 2020 to nonprofits and schools seeking to help their most vulnerable students.  A list of awardees, including 124 schools and nonprofits spanning 26 states, was announced in February 2021.

“For years, AT&T has prioritized its commitment to education, and we continue our focus by helping to narrow the homework gap.  Doing so begins with providing access to connectivity and devices – particularly for our nation’s most vulnerable students,” said Mylayna Albright, AVP, Corporate Social Responsibility, AT&T. “Collaborating with Connected Nation enables us to better identify how and where we can make the biggest impact so students most at-risk can get the tools they need to succeed.”

The last of the 35,000 hotspots were delivered on August 5, 2021— completing the promise to provide access to remote learning to as many students as possible.  More than 1,000 of those hotspots went to Kentucky students include at Greenup County School District

“Much of our population is rural, and there are high poverty levels across the county with approximately 62% of students qualifying for free and reduced lunch,” said Sarah Kelsey, Instructional Coordinator, Greenup County School District. “Even before the pandemic, we had some parents let us know their children would not be able to do virtual homework because they didn’t have internet access at home. A student internet home access survey conducted in early March 2020 showed that 25.1% of our students did not have reliable access to internet services.”

Some organizations opted to delay their hotspot and internet service delivery so that the year of free internet service would coincide with the start of the fall school semester. The program is primarily focused on providing access for students in the following groups:

  • Students in foster care
  • Students experiencing homelessness
  • English language learners
  • Students with disabilities
  • Students eligible for the Migrant Education Program
  • Other at-risk students who may be disconnected from formal education opportunities

The 124 awardees in the program represent 81 schools and 43 nonprofits. Schools and nonprofits could seek up to 500 hotspots per application.   To see the full list of awardees and learn more about the impact of this program, head to