Facebook co-founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg has announced that he and his wife, Priscilla Chan, have pledged $20 million to EducationSuperHighway to expand high-speed Internet access in schools across the country.
Zuckerberg and Chan's support for EducationSuperHighway will help K-12 schools tap federal funds to acquire and improve high-speed Internet connections and enable "personalized learning" through online platforms offering customized education on an individual student basiss. In 2013, the couple awarded the nonprofit a $3 million grant.
"In schools, [the] Internet is critical for enabling something we know leads to better results: personalized learning," Zuckerberg wrote in a Facebook post. "Most schools in the U.S. are connected, but less than half have high-speed broadband. This means most students can't use personalized learning software that helps them learn content they're interested in, at their own pace and in a style customized to them. And it means teachers can't access many of the resources available online. Every classroom should have fast Internet access, and thanks to EducationSuperHighway, President Obama's ConnectED initiative, and the work of many other partners, we're making great progress."
ConnectED was launched in 2013 with the goal of providing 99 percent of students in the United States with access to broadband by 2018. A new report from EducationSuperHighway finds that twenty million more students have gained broadband access over the last two years, while 77 percent of school districts now meet the minimum federal goal for Internet access. According to the New York Times, EducationSuperHighway has worked with a number of school districts and states to evaluate their Internet infrastructure needs and help them obtain government funding. It also has launched a price transparency project to help district administrators better understand the fees charged by Internet providers and negotiate for better deals.
"Mark and Priscilla believe that equipping K-12 classrooms with Internet connections is essential for students to thrive in the knowledge economy," Jen Holleran, the executive director of Startup:Education, which oversees the Zuckerberg-Chan family's educational giving, said in a statement. "Fast, reliable broadband is the foundational infrastructure that is needed to bring personalized and digital learning to every child and teacher in America."