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Grants extend home, bus internet for Minnesota students

ST. PAUL -- More students throughout greater Minnesota will have access to online homework outside of school hours following a round of state grants.

ST. PAUL -- More students throughout greater Minnesota will have access to online homework outside of school hours following a round of state grants.

A total of $500,000 to improve after-school internet access will be divided among 12 school districts, 11 of which are in greater Minnesota, where students would otherwise lack reliable internet access.

"Too many Minnesota students are on the wrong side of the digital divide," said Lt. Gov. Tina Smith. "These grants will help level the playing field for students in greater Minnesota by providing them the same educational opportunities as their friends and family in the cities."

This is the second broadband-related grant Smith announced this week, following news of $34 million in grants for 40 broadband infrastructure expansion projects in rural Minnesota.

The funding will help establish wireless internet connections.

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In some school districts, the funding will be used to create wireless connections on school buses. Students in Lake of the Woods, for example, will be able to use wireless access to do homework during bus rides that sometimes top two hours.

Schools will also use grant funding to purchase wireless hotspots, mobile data cards and other mobile broadband devices students can check out for use at home.

"Technology is a part of Minnesota classrooms," said Minnesota Education Commissioner Brenda Cassellius. "If we want all students to be successful, we need to make sure we are providing them the tools they need. Where a student lives and their family income should not determine whether they are able to complete their schoolwork or not."

The funding prioritizes school districts whose students come from low-income families and take long bus routes to school. According to the Pew Research Center, low-income households with children are four times more likely to lack broadband than middle of upper-income families.

The state received more than 30 applications for funding, which caps at $50,000 per district.

Grant recipients are:

  • Deer River School District, $39,267

  • Fertile-Beltrami School District, $41,922

  • Lake of the Woods School District, $49,840

  • Lake Superior School District, $50,000

  • McGregor School District, $46,500

  • Pine City School District, $44,831

  • Princeton School District, $44,916

  • Rothsay School District, $46,500

  • Shakopee School District, $34,574

  • St. Cloud School District, $40,546

  • Thief River Falls School District, $30,484

  • Tracy School District, $30,62

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