FCC To Launch $7.17 Billion Connectivity Fund Program

New Program Provides Funding to Schools and Libraries Critical to Closing the Homework Gap

WASHINGTON—The Federal Communications Commission unanimously adopted final rules to implement the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. This $7.17 billion program, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will enable schools and libraries to purchase laptop and tablet computers, Wi-Fi hotspots, and broadband connectivity for students, school staff, and library patrons in need during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Far too often, students, teachers, and library patrons lack the access they need to broadband and connected devices. This need has become even more apparent during these unprecedented times,” said Jessica Rosenworcel, Acting Chairwoman of the FCC. “Between this Emergency Connectivity Fund Program and the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program, we are investing more than $10 billion in American students and households. These investments will help more Americans access online education, healthcare, and employment resources. They will help close the Homework Gap for students nationwide and give so many more households the ability to connect, communicate, and more fully participate in modern life.”

The Report and Order adopted today establishes the rules and policies governing the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. The new rules define eligible equipment and services, service locations, eligible uses, and reasonable support amounts for funding provided. It designates the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) as the program administrator with FCC oversight, and leverages the processes and structures used in the ERate program for the benefit of schools and libraries already familiar with the E-Rate program. It also adopts procedures to protect the limited funding from waste, fraud, and abuse.

Recent estimates suggest there may be as many as 17 million children struggling without the broadband access they need for remote learning. The Acting Chairwoman has long made closing the Homework Gap a priority during her tenure at the Commission.

— Source: Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
Top photo: GettyImages


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Amazon Announces All-New Fire HD 8 Tablets for the Entire Family

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SEATTLE —  Amazon today announced the next generation of its Fire HD 8 tablet lineup, designed with the entire family in mind: the all-new Fire HD 8, Fire HD 8 Plus, and Fire HD 8 Kids Edition.

All-New Fire HD 8 Kids Edition: Built from the Ground-Up for Kids

The all-new Fire HD 8 Kids Edition includes the Fire HD 8 tablet with an 8” HD display, 32GB of storage with up to 1TB of expandable storage via microSD, up to 12 hours of mixed-use battery life, and USB-C for reversible charging. It also comes bundled with a kid-proof case with a new adjustable stand in blue, pink, or purple, a two-year worry-free guarantee, and a year of Amazon FreeTime Unlimited—all for $139.99.

amazon-tablets_Fire_HD_8_All_ColorsWith Amazon FreeTime Unlimited, kids can enjoy over 20,000 premium, age-appropriate books, Audible books, educational apps, games, and videos on their Fire HD 8 Kids Edition, including new and popular titles such as Pinkfong Baby Shark, Sonic Dash, Descendants Junior Novel, and Barbie Dreamtopia from brands like Smartstudy, PBS KIDS, SEGA, and Mattel. Kids can also enjoy over 2,000 Spanish language titles, like Pinkfong! Car Songs, Plaza Sesamo, National Geographic Readers: Los Tiburones (Sharks), and Los Sentidos de Los Insectos.

Within FreeTime, kids can easily discover over 1,500 educational titles organized by core curriculum and extracurricular topics, such as math, science, exercise, art, and virtual field trips. In addition, for a limited time, families will also have access to additional premium content from HOMER and PBS Kids within FreeTime Unlimited. All of the FreeTime Unlimited content is kid-friendly and hand-selected by the Amazon FreeTime team with new titles added regularly.

“Over 20 million kids (and their parents) have enjoyed the award-winning Amazon FreeTime service and we’re excited to make it even better with new educational content that helps to keep kids learning and entertained,” said Kurt Beidler, Director of Kids and Family, Amazon. “The all-new Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is built from the ground up to offer the FreeTime Unlimited content kids love and the parental controls parents trust—all wrapped in a colorful kid-proof case with a two-year worry-free guarantee.”

Fire HD 8 Kids Edition comes with access to award-winning parental controls that encourage learning before play. With FreeTime, parents can manage their child’s FreeTime settings, such as the ability to set daily goals, age filters, and time limits for both weekdays and weekends. Parents can also use parental controls to choose what content kids can access and to add more content. These settings can be managed on the device or parents can visit Amazon’s Parent Dashboard to view daily activity reports and easily adjust their child’s FreeTime settings from any web browser, whether they’re on a mobile device or computer.

Availability

The all-new Fire HD 8 Kids Edition is available for pre-order now, starting at $139.99 at and will begin shipping next month on June 3. As an introductory offer, BDPA Members and Amazon customers who purchase two Fire HD 8 Kids Edition tablets together will receive a 25% discount.  Free subscriptions end after the first year; however, they can be used on any compatible device, including Fire tablets, Fire TV, Kindle, Echo, iOS, Chrome OS, and Android devices.

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Tablets For Teens

To help local communities in advance of our next school year, discover more by partnering with local BDPA Chapters or visiting tabletsforteens.org.

“I.T.’s” happening!

— Sources: Amazon and BDPA

 

 


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A Miracle out of Mayhem: 51,000 parents and children in Detroit get laptops and free Internet access

DETROIT, MI (NAACP Detroit) – Today it was announced that 51,000 Detroit school children and their parents will have access to laptops and the internet. A few weeks ago, this was only a thought in the minds of a few very dedicated people. Now children all around this city, regardless of economic, social or racial status will become more knowledgeable, more prepared, and more confident in their future.

Partners in this effort are the Detroit Branch NAACP, DTE Energy, DPSCD, Quicken Loans, The Skillman Foundation, City of Detroit, General Motors, and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

Every now and then, one gets the opportunity to do something much bigger which will last much longer than even they themselves. This is the historic moment. It is a kairos moment (when God has placed a special opportunity) to bless Detroit to come together to create order out of chaos. It has been said, “it is only during a storm that a tree knows how strong it is” Matshona Dhliwayo. Today, we are discovering how strong we can be as a people when we come together as a village. It is hard to believe that what started off as an idea, a suggestion, even a challenge has now evolved into a reality. This truly is the stuff of which dreams are made.

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51,000 Detroit school children and their parents will have access to laptops and the internet. A few weeks ago, this was only a thought in the minds of a few very dedicated people. Now children all around this city, regardless of economic, social or racial status will become more knowledgeable, more prepared, and more confident in their future. Education and information will be brought live and in living color directly into their homes. Detroit will become a national model of what can be done in various communities if the people have a mind to get it done.

It is appropriate and inspiring that the model begin in the city of Detroit. We continue to be a city of firsts. From the auto industry to the music industry, whether its labor or religion, we take a back seat to no one in creativity and innovation. As a community advocate and a person of faith, I do believe in miracles. The ability to raise nearly $20 million dollars in such a short time to have an impact for such a long time is indeed miraculous. This is one sure way of defeating COVID-19. The disease may have taken our bodies, but it can never take the spirit out of Detroit. I want to thank every company, every business, every foundation, the Mayor, and each person that has made this initiative possible.

hscc_conf09-HSCCstudents-2I say to the other companies, firms and foundations that are viewing this progress, now is the time for you to log in with us. Let’s make history together. It is historic because it has never been done before. The children of our city need you. If ever you wondered what you should do, just hook up to the Connected Futures and see all the good that you can do. May God bless you and the children, educators, parents, IT professionals and other staff that will lead us into the future.

– Statement by Rev. Dr. Wendell Anthony, President, Detroit Branch NAACP
Cover photo: Detroit Branch NAACP
Coding Competition photos: ©National BDPA and BDPA Detroit

BDPA Chapters may directly receive new tablets, laptops, Raspberry Pi PC kits, software, mobile hotspots, and cash donations locally or via BDPA Education and Technology Foundation (BETF.org) to reduce digital divide challenges.

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D.C. Mayor Delivers a $4.6 Million Technology Investment with 16,400 Devices to Students

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WASHINGTON – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser and DC Public Schools (DCPS) began delivering more than 16,400 technology devices to students across all eight wards as a part of the Empowered Learner’s Initiative. The initiative is a comprehensive three-year commitment by Mayor Bowser to close the digital divide and empower DCPS students through access to state-of-the-art technology.

“Last year, our community made clear that they wanted us to invest more in technology in our schools – and we answered that call with a $4.6 million investment in new devices for our young learners,” said Mayor Bowser. “But this investment isn’t just about buying devices – it’s about ensuring our students and teachers have the programs and resources they need to help us close the digital divide in Washington, DC.”

Last year, Mayor Bowser made an initial $4.6 million investment in technology to provide every student in grades 3, 6, and 9 with a device to use at school, and students in all other grades will have a 3:1 student-to-device ratio in the classroom. After ensuring schools had the necessary technology infrastructure and providing professional development to educators, classrooms are receiving the Microsoft Surface Go to enhance teaching and learning.

dc-tablets-farabee2020“DCPS is excited to begin delivering on our commitment to close the digital divide and empower students across the district in innovative ways,” said DC Public Schools Chancellor Lewis D. Ferebee (above left, with students). “This year, students in grades 3, 6, and 9 will receive Microsoft Surface Go’s that will enhance their learning experience and advance college and career success. I thank Mayor Bowser for her investment in the Empowered Learner’s initiative and look forward to providing even more students with access to state-of-the-art technology over the next three years.”

After students and educators tested the Microsoft Surface Go, it was selected for its agility, durability, and long-battery life. The Surface Go has a world-facing camera for video and photography, and an inking stylus for drawing and writing.

Since the beginning of the school year, teachers, technology specialists, and operations staff engaged in professional development focused on this new technology. Students are receiving digital citizenship lessons, published by Common Sense Media, to make safe and responsible decisions online.

“We want to ensure the new technology provides the best experience for students and have been testing and optimizing to make that a reality,” said DC Chief Technology Officer Lindsey Parker. “Nearly 50 technicians are trained and ready to support students and teachers the moment the devices enter the classroom and students log-in.”

Tablets For TeensThe devices will stay in the classroom so teachers can continue to use the technology to enhance their instruction. Families can expect to see their third grade students using the devices to apply the math skills they learn to control Sphero robots; high school students enrolled in credit recovery can have full access to digital resources and assessment that will help them master the course content; and teachers can provide personalized strategies to meet every student’s individual needs through both in-person and digital instruction.

Next fiscal year, Mayor Bowser plans to make another multimillion dollar investment in technology to provide a device for every student in grades 4, 7, and 10. To learn more about the devices, families can visit the District’s Empowered Learners Initiative website.

Source and photo: Office of the Mayor
Cover photo courtesy: Debbie Truong

* Resources for DCPS parents, teachers, and students are linked here.


** Related articles on BDPA-DC’s Tablets For Teens or National BDPA’s Mobile App Showcase programs are linked here.


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Black News Channel launches in America

BNC | Black News Channel

National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr. (right) says NNPA’s partnership with BNC is a profound win-win for Black America. Dr. Chavis is joined (L-R) by former Congressman J.C. Watts, BNC Chairman and Jacksonville Jaguars Owner, Shad Khan, BNC majority stakeholder.  — NNPA photo.

NEW YORK—In a joint teleconference broadcast live from the Four Season’s Hotel in New York’s Financial District, the Black News Channel (BNC) and the National Newspaper Publishers Association announced the official launch date and time for the nation’s first 24-hour, 7-days a week all-news TV channel that will focus on African American news.

The new channel promises to inform, educate, and empower nearly 50 million African Americans now living in the United States.

The potential for the network appears almost limitless.

BNC will immediately have the potential to reach 33 million households daily in all the major media markets across the nation.

Combined with the millions of readers who consume information from NNPA’s Black-owned newspapers and media companies each week, the BNC could quickly become the top destination for all who want to consume African American news on TV and on mobile devices.

BNC, which officially launches at 6 a.m. on Friday, November 15, 2019, has agreements with Charter Communications, Comcast and DISH TV. The network already has commitments for carriage in major African American hubs like Atlanta, New York City, Chicago, New Orleans, Houston, Philadelphia, Detroit, Washington, DC, Baltimore and Los Angeles.

Tallahassee, Florida, houses BNC’s headquarters, and the network will have news bureaus around the country, including Washington, D.C. and New York City.

Former Republican U.S. Congressman J.C. Watts is chairman of BNC, which is backed financially by business mogul and Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan.

“This platform will create a venue for the African American community to have a dialogue to talk about news, education and cultural things,” stated Watts, who added that the network has been in the planning stage for many years.

“I had an afro when I started this,” Watts referenced.

“It’s especially important to have the Black Press of America join us in this venture. I bet most people don’t realize that there are 223 African American-owned newspapers in the NNPA, and that’s content for us,” Watts stated.

“We suffered a big blow with the loss of Ebony and Jet, publications I grew up reading. But I still read the Black Press in Oklahoma City, growing up.”

NNPA President and CEO Dr. Benjamin F. Chavis, Jr., who participated in the teleconference, said the NNPA’s partnership with the BNC is a profound win-win for Black America.

“This year marks the 192nd year of the Black Press of America. Black Americans striving for excellence in all fields of endeavor give life to our culture that attracts and impacts all people. We set trends for ourselves and others,” Chavis stated.

“We’re not a cursed people, and we are a blessed people. We continue to strive for excellence, and to have Shad Khan announced as a primary investor for the launch and sustainable development of the BNC is of major significance,” Chavis noted.

Kahn told NNPA Newswire that the decision to back BNC was easy once he looked at the mission and the business model.

“I am a big believer in the fact that we have a number of communities, obviously especially the African American community, who are underserved,” stated Kahn, a magnate in the auto equipment industry.

In addition to the Jaguars, he owns the Fulham Football Club of the English Football League, All Elite Wrestling, and the Four Seasons Hotel Toronto.

“I hope that as time goes on, this becomes a bridge to connect all the cultures, including obviously south Asian. But I do believe there is an undeniable calling for everything the Black News Channel will deliver to African American television audiences, who have historically been underserved in an era where networks have otherwise successfully targeted news to specific demographic groups and interests. My decision to invest is an easy one because we get to answer that calling,” Kahn explained.

Both Watts and Kahn promised that BNC will give a voice to the varied experiences of African Americans and will not just tell a segment of the story but will tell the entire story.

“We will inform, educate, inspire, and empower the African American community,” Watts added.

BNC will have three primary anchor teams who will host the network’s evening newscast, morning newscast, and mid-day D.C. Today Live broadcast. In addition to primary anchor teams, BNC also will have high-profile expert contributors who will add commentary and information to each newscast.

The network will work with historically black colleges and universities to ensure that all African Americans have a voice.

A BNC correspondent will examine life on the HBCU campuses and explain why the experiences students have at these institutions of learning are so meaningful in the cultural development of many students’ lives. The weekly one-hour program will focus on what is happening at HBCUs that is good, positive, and uplifting.

Additionally, one of the many topics will include Sickle Cell Diseases, the blood disorder that disproportionately affects African Americans.

Veteran TV anchor Kelly Wright, who will host a 6 p.m. show on BNC, said his inaugural program would include a segment on the NNPA’s missing black girls national series.

That series spotlights the more than 424,000 African American women and girls who have gone missing in the United States over the past half-decade.

“We’re not looking to be Republican or Democrat. There will be current affairs, but we are culturally specific to the African American community. MSNBC, Fox News, CNN may have African American faces on their news shows, but they are not necessarily covering the community from a cultural perspective,” Watts stated. “We’re not looking to be left or right. We will be authentic and true to enriched and diverse African American experience.”

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Qualcomm and Apple agree to drop all litigation

SAN DIEGO and CUPERTINO, CA — Qualcomm and Apple today announced an agreement to dismiss all litigation between the two companies worldwide. The settlement includes a payment from Apple to Qualcomm. The companies also have reached a six-year license agreement, effective as of April 1, 2019, including a two-year option to extend, and a multiyear chipset supply agreement.

Apple revolutionized personal technology with the introduction of the Macintosh in 1984. Today, Apple leads the world in innovation with iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV. Apple’s four software platforms — iOS, macOS, watchOS and tvOS — provide seamless experiences across all Apple devices and empower people with breakthrough services including the App Store, Apple Music, Apple Pay and iCloud. Apple’s more than 100,000 employees are dedicated to making the best products on earth, and to leaving the world better than we found it.

qualcomm-wearables

Qualcomm invents breakthrough technologies that transform how the world connects, computes and communicates. When we connected the phone to the Internet, the mobile revolution was born. Today, our inventions are the foundation for life-changing products, experiences, and industries. As we lead the world to 5G, we envision this next big change in cellular technology spurring a new era of intelligent, connected devices and enabling new opportunities in connected cars, remote delivery of health care services, and the IoT — including smart cities, smart homes, and wearables. Qualcomm Incorporated includes our licensing business, QTL, and the vast majority of our patent portfolio. Qualcomm Technologies, Inc., a subsidiary of Qualcomm Incorporated, operates, along with its subsidiaries, all of our engineering, research and development functions, and all of our products and services businesses, including, the QCT semiconductor business.

— Source + Images: Qualcomm and Apple

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Apple’s free Schoolwork app now available for teachers

New Apple App Makes It Easy to Create Assignments, View Student Progress and More

CUPERTINO, CA — Apple’s Schoolwork App works alongside the Classroom app, which turns iPads — and now Macs — into a versatile teaching assistant, putting teachers in charge of the technology used in the classroom. Classroom on iPad helps teachers keep students focused on a specific app or website and lets them view student screens during class, share documents with students, assign shared iPads and even reset a student passwords.

The all-new Schoolwork app empowers teachers to take full advantage of the power and creativity of iPad to create new learning experiences for their students. Schoolwork makes it easy to create and send announcements and assignments with almost any type of content, from web links to PDFs and documents, and even specific activities in apps. Students can use Schoolwork to stay organized and keep track of the work they need to complete and when they need to hand it in.

Today, teachers may now use their new  Schoolwork apps to easily assign specific activity rights within an app to guide students or study groups directly to a related challenge or new lessons. Popular education apps including Explain Everything, Tynker, GeoGebra and Kahoot! work directly with Schoolwork to bring useful educational content with new tools to teachers using iPads.

Source/photos: Apple Inc.

 


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