Broadband and Education


When rural students can’t access the internet, communities cannot reach their full potential. We recently came across a news story out of Alaska where a rural community’s libraries could potentially lose their internet this year unless provisions can be made to their budget.  In parts of rural Alaska, often the only way to access the internet is to go to a local library; places that typically offer Wi-Fi such as restaurants and coffee shops are virtually nonexistent. If the budget passes without a provision for broadband, a large section of one of America’s most beautiful states will go dark. What does this mean for children needing to access the internet in order to do their schoolwork? How can they hope to keep up with their urban peers? Now more than ever, it’s important that schools, libraries, and communities stay connected. Has your company considered partnering with a local school or library? If not, now is a great time!


Here are some reasons your team should explore partnering with a local school system, hospital, or library:


1. Better education builds stronger communities. What do Oprah Winfrey, Taylor Swift, Eva Longoria, Carrie Underwood, David Geffen, and Mark Zuckerberg have in common? Aside from being global household names, they’re leaders who grew up in small towns… some of them even grew up on farms in very rural areas. When we empower rural children with technology, they are free to build the future they want. A well-educated community will thrive faster than an uneducated community. With access to broadband, college age kids can pursue higher education while still working on the family farm or in the family business. Partnering with a local school system means giving local children more than just internet access—you’re giving them and their families the tools they need to succeed in the global economy.


2. Libraries may be more important than you think. It may have been awhile since you’ve visited a brick-and-mortar library now that Kindles, e-readers, and tablet books dominate a large portion of the market share. But libraries are more than just places for borrowing books—for many rural areas (like the Alaska area we referenced above) the library is the only place where the community can access a computer. The Pew Research center estimates that as of 2014
25 million American households did not have a computer in their home meaning that if they wish to get online to do research, take a continuing education class, or even pay bills they must head to the local library. Now more than ever it is important that libraries have access to fast broadband so that the communities they serve can thrive.


3. Customers love community involvement! 68% of consumers in a recent poll suggested that they would rather do business with a company with strong community engagement and values than only do business with the low-cost leader. By reaching out to a local school or library, you’re putting the community first, and that will resonate with nearly every consumer. Once you have discussed with the local organization what their needs are and how you can help, don’t be afraid to publicize what you’re doing! Write a short article detailing what you’ve done, and put it up on your company website. If your marketing team is blog-savvy, write a blog. If possible, head over to the organization with your team and take a few pictures. Being engaged in the community is a big deal and something to celebrate, so don’t be afraid to let others know what you’re up to.


Deciding to reach out to educational organizations can seem a bit daunting, but believe us the payoff can be huge. Deciding to partner with your community strengthens your relationship with your customers, your town, and potentially even your bottom line.