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Keeping City Year connected to students

Source: Crain’s Business

When the COVID-19 crisis forced the Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) to close in mid-March, students had to finish their classes at home. City Year, teachers and the district went to great lengths to transition to a digital learning environment to keep students engaged. Regardless of these efforts, most students could not take advantage of online learning tools or connect with teachers or AmeriCorps members through video chat. As DPSCD estimates, 90% of the district’s students did not have access to a device and the Internet.

As we approach the upcoming school year, there are many challenges for students and families to consider as they make the transition to virtual learning. Thankfully, for DPSCD, staying connected won’t be one of them. 

Connected Futures is an initiative that aims to place a computer tablet with high-speed LTE internet connectivity, along with technical support, into the hands of 51,000 DPSCD students before the start of the new school year. Detroit businesses, philanthropic organizations and DPSCD have come together for the Connected Futures program with unyielding support, pledging a $23 million investment.

“When our executive team began prioritizing COVID-19 relief efforts, the issue of digital inequity for Detroit students rose to the top,” said DTE Energy President and CEO and Skillman Foundation Board Member Jerry Norcia.

“We recognized that we needed to take action urgently to close the digital divide for these students and provide them with the tools necessary to thrive in the 21st century. Today, the Detroit community commits to our children’s futures. It’s time for us to level the playing field for the students of Detroit,” said Norcia.

As City Year Detroit welcomes our largest corps to date, we plan to take advantage of this digital gift. For the first time, all City Year Detroit AmeriCorps members will complete their basic training virtually to prepare them for their year of service. < “The Connected Futures Program is the perfect example of how a community can rise up and face a challenge head on. Detroit is a city of determination, pride and community first—and this initiative is one that we hope other cities will take notice of and model for themselves,” said Ginger Green, corporate and foundation partnerships manager at City Year Detroit. “City Year is fortunate to have a strong community of businesses working beside us. When we look at the Connected Futures program, we see a wealth of familiar faces that took this initiative and made it happen.”

“We are proud to stand among them as we work together to make Detroit education obtainable, in this uncertain time, and beyond,” said Green.

If you would like to learn more about the Connected Futures Program, visit the DPSCD website.

Quotes from Jerry Norcia referenced from “Bridging the Digital Divide for Detroit Students: First fund of $23M launches”, published on

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