In an effort to close the digital divide, AT&T announced it’s opening more than 20 learning centers across the country that will provide access to free digital devices, high-speed internet, Wi-Fi, and online educational content for underserved students.

The first AT&T Connected Learning Center opened in Dallas, and the company has plans to open others in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Miami, and San Francisco. The learning centers are part of the $2 billion AT&T Connected Learning program, which the company announced in April to help bridge the digital divide over a three-year period.

“The stakes for closing the digital divide are incredibly high, and it is imperative that we remove barriers to opportunity for children and families,” Jeff McElfresh, CEO at AT&T Communication, said. “Education plays a vital role in the long-term success of our society, and we are committed to investing in the educational and connectivity needs of underserved communities, while also expanding access to low-cost broadband services.”

To support the learning centers, Dell Technologies will donate Dell OptiPlex computers and Dell monitors, equipped with audio and webcams for virtual learning. Additionally, Overland-Tandberg will lead the onsite configuration of the computers.

The centers will also have access to digital educational content from Khan Academy, the Public Library Association, WarnerMedia, and other online learning resources. AT&T employees will be available at the learning centers for mentoring and tutoring the students.

Local community organizations in underserved areas will house the centers, such as the Family Gateway homeless shelter in Dallas.

“We are happy to have the first AT&T Connected Learning Center onsite at our emergency shelter in downtown Dallas,” Ellen Magnis, president and CEO at Family Gateway, said. “The AT&T Connected Learning Center will help us continue meeting the educational and social-emotional needs of children experiencing homelessness in Dallas. AT&T has been a wonderful corporate collaborator of ours for many years, and the children in our care look forward to tutoring sessions with AT&T employees every week. We are so grateful for their collaboration in our mission.”

“Our nation’s most underserved communities need immediate solutions for overcoming barriers to access, affordability, and adoption,” Charlene Lake, senior vice president, AT&T Corporate Social Responsibility, said. “AT&T Connected Learning is tackling these issues head on, working to expand access to connectivity services and devices, as well as drive digital literacy and adoption through relevant and engaging educational content, and tutoring and mentoring support.”

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk SLG's Staff Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.