LANSING, Mich. — LAFCU is offering free internet hotspots to the mid-Michigan community.
Access to the internet became especially important in 2020 when much of work and school went virtual. Households without access to reliable internet were forced to park outside of libraries, coffee shops and schools to connect to WiFi.
Students without easy access to the internet were more likely to fall behind their peers, according to a study published by Michigan State University.
“Students without Internet access and those who depend on a cell phone for their only access are half a grade point below those with fast access. This gap has ripple effects that may last an entire life,” said Professor Keith Hampton who works in the university’s College of Arts and Sciences.
About 3,300 students in grades 8 through 11 were surveyed for the study.
“Results showed that the most rural and socioeconomically disadvantaged students are least likely to have broadband Internet access at home,” researchers wrote in their findings. “Only 47% of students who live in rural areas have high-speed Internet access at home compared to 77% of those in suburban areas. Of those who do not have home access, 36% live in a home with no computer and 58% live on a farm or other rural setting.”
Although the effects of the pandemic are starting to wane as more residents get vaccinated and warmer temperatures slow the spread, much of normal life is still behind a computer screen. Reliable internet is still crucially important as students in mid-Michigan finish up their school year online and gatherings are still on Zoom.
Members of the mid-Michigan community can apply for a free WiFi hotspot from LAFCU.
“The pandemic has illuminated the disparity that exists with regard to internet access. Because access to the internet is vital to many necessary endeavors LAFCU is offering this community giveaway to help students participate in distance learning and for adults to connect to online education, job searches, health care information, public assistance and other critical services," said Kelli Ellsworth Etchison, LAFCU chief marketing officer and chief diversity officer.
The deadline for applications is on Saturday, May 8.
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