Published January 04, 2021
By Claire Bessette

Norwich — Norwich Human Services has launched a grant-funded effort to provide local students and their families with affordable internet connections.

“Bridging the Digital Divide” is a technology grant funded through Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut and the William Casper Graustein Memorial Fund. It is intended to connect high school students to devices, assist their families with monthly internet payments, and provide technology education to the community, according to a news release on the program.

The program aims to supply 30 low-income Norwich high school juniors and seniors without devices with personal laptops so they may continue their high school classes and pursue further education after graduation.

The grant also provides assistance to 75 Norwich families, with children enrolled in kindergarten through 12th grade in Norwich Public Schools or high schools affording their monthly internet costs for six months, regardless of their provider. Additionally, through a partnership with Norwich Adult Education, funding is available for parents to participate remotely in technology training to use the internet and help their children navigate their devices.

Norwich Human Services also offers “LINK,” Linking Internet to Norwich Kids, a program funded by the Chelsea Groton Foundation, intended to connect 75 Norwich families to six months of Xfinity’s Internet Essentials.

This funding is intended to assist residents of Norwich who have children currently participating in distance learning at Norwich Public Schools or NFA.

“As our community continues to persevere through the COVID-19 pandemic, this funding is intended to keep children connected to their education as classrooms shift to hybrid and fully remote learning platforms to ensure the safety of their students and families,” the news release stated. “Students who lack access to wireless internet at home are at greater risk for poor academic outcomes. At NHS we believe that one’s socio-economic class should not be a barrier to information and education.”

For more information on how to apply for devices or assistance with internet coverage through the programs, contact Norwich Human Services at (860) 823-3778 and ask for Sydney Phelps at Ext. 3475.