State Department of Education Will Provide $15 Million in Grants for Student Internet Access

by Vivian Jones


Tennessee’s Department of Education has announced $15 million in matching grants to help school districts provide MiFi devices and data coverage for 100,000 student households without internet access. MiFi devices access the internet over the cellular network using a procedure commonly referred to as “tethering.”

Funds will go to school districts as a matching grant to provide an estimated 100,000 households with internet access for distance learning amid the coronavirus pandemic. Priority will be given to households most in need.

“100,000 households, most of those households have multiple children who will now have internet access,” Education Commissioner Penny Schwinn said during a news conference Thursday. “We think it’s incredibly important, not just to address the pandemic, but frankly for children to have access to that regularly. We’re very excited.”

School districts purchasing devices for students will be able to request $150 per household as a reimbursement grant from the state, to be matched with local funds to purchase devices and coverage. State funds will cover both devices and data charges for the first semester, after which districts will be responsible for coverage costs.

“We know for those students who don’t have internet access, and who don’t have devices at home oftentimes are experiencing achievement gaps as it is,” Schwinn said. “If they do not have that access, it is the responsibility of the district and of the state to find solutions to ensure that they do not fall farther behind. We know how hard it is to catch up, and we just don’t have time to waste on child education.”

To receive grant funding, school districts will determine the number of households without internet services in their district and the number of devices needed. The state will provide $150 per household to the school district to provide a device, based on state contracted rates for MiFi devices and data coverage for the first semester.

This new funding comes in addition to a $50 million education technology grant, announced by Gov. Bill Lee last month, that purchased more than 250,000 computers and tablets for students across the state.

The department has also launched a resource hub called Best For All Central with free professional development resources, instructional videos for teachers and school administration. Additionally, the department launched a website of resources for families to help guide families though the remote learning process.

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Vivian Jones reports on Tennessee and South Carolina for The Center Square.
Photo “Studying Students” by US Army.




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5 Thoughts to “State Department of Education Will Provide $15 Million in Grants for Student Internet Access”

  1. 83ragtop50

    Hey, I sure would like to get some of this “free” stuff. It seems that I am always “means tested” out but I always have to pay for crazy stuff like this distance “learning” charade.

  2. Sim

    Stop paying these Hospitals for Covid deaths that don’t exist and make them give accurate medical data, You might find more people are killed in “Crosswalks” than by Covid.

    Isn’t it a crime to receive money from the government under false pretenses???

    So why aren’t these Hospital being charged for collect money under false pretenses,

    The Government and CDC know it is going on,

    “WHY” the need to lie about covid deaths, is it because there is no Pandemic????


  3. Kalee

    Many rural areas can’t even get cell service. A better option is group homeschool…where several children (usually 8-10) from neighboring families meet for school in one homeschool household or other community location. Like the one-room schoolhouse with homeschool parent(s) as teacher. It’s working in rural areas and urban neighborhoods. Families are learning that when parents take charge of their kids’ education, children are happier, smarter, and more well adjusted. And in TN, the homeschooled can take part in sports and other extracurricular activities with government school students. Government school students are generally taught what to think, not how to think. Universities are looking for homeschool graduates because they know how to think for themselves, are more disciplined and well-rounded, are better with interpersonal relationships, and academically outperform public school students by large margins. The government school monopoly needs more competition in order to improve. Amount spent on average in TN, per student in Gov schools (2020) = $9,694 per year compared to the Homeschool student with an average of $850 per year. Looking at government school performance, we should all ask for our money back.

  4. Julie

    I suspect that student performance will decrease with distance learning but we won’t know since standardized testing has been suspended and may be done away with altogether. If the teachers unions have their way performance metrics and accountability will not exist.

  5. Beatrice Shaw

    We need to see MUCH more of this!! GOOD JOB!!!