Barberton WiFi Zone Project Set to Impact over 800 Public Housing Recipients
Partnership between Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority, Building for Tomorrow, Barberton Community Foundation, Barberton City School District, and the City of Barberton to Bring in-unit WiFi to Family Units
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Akron, OH—The Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority (AMHA) and Building For Tomorrow’s (BFT) ConnectHome Akron Initiative is bringing no cost, quality internet service to underserved communities in Barberton through their ongoing Community WiFi Zone project. The Barberton WiFi Zone Project is a collaborative effort between AMHA, the Barberton Community Foundation, Barberton City Schools, and the City of Barberton. The Barberton WiFi Zone project will impact 463 children and 329 adults living in 272 AMHA Public Housing Units at both Van Buren Homes and Crimson Terrace.
The Barberton WiFi Zone is a part of an ongoing AMHA WiFi Zone Initiative throughout Summit County. In September, the housing authority launched its first two WiFi Zones at Stephanie Keys Towers in Stow and Pinewood Garden in Twinsburg. It Is currently on track to complete Paul E. Belcher Senior Apartments in Akron, and Edgewood Village in Akron.
“We could not do this work without our amazing partners,” says AMHA Executive Director Brian Gage. “Discussions about this project began in August of 2020, and the persistence and commitment by the Barberton Community Foundation, Barberton City Schools, and the City of Barberton were instrumental in seeing the project through to fruition.”
The project will be funded collaboratively with AMHA contributing $65,000; Barberton City Schools contributing $50,000, The City of Barberton contributing $20,000, and the Barberton Community Foundation contributing $18,000. The total estimated project cost is $153,000.00.
“The City of Barberton is excited to be a part of this collaboration to help provide internet access to our AMHA residents,” says Barberton Mayor William Judge. “This will help our school children and keep them engaged and active with the school system. We look forward to this project and the opportunities it provides.”
Since 2017, ConnectHome Akron—a partnership between AMHA’s nonprofit arm Building for Tomorrow, AMHA, and The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)—has worked to tackle the “digital divide” in Summit County. ConnectHome programming has consisted of free Hotspot Lending Programs, Device Distribution Days with partner PCs for People, Community WiFi Installation, and Digital Literacy Training. In-Unit WiFi is the next step in true sustainability and long-term adoption of digital technology.
“Barberton City School District is thrilled that we could assist our partners at AMHA to provide a permanent WIFI solution for the students and families that reside in the households associated with AMHA,” Says Barberton City School District Superintendent Jeffrey Ramnytz. “The COVID-19 public health crisis has brought the high need for WiFi to the forefront of our community, as it has become essential to have Internet access to participate in school and thrive in day-to-day life. The landscape of education has changed because of this pandemic. Even though we will be back in school completely in the Fall of 2021, remote learning and support for our students will continue to be a part of what we do every day. It is critical that all students and families have access to WiFi to be successful in the future.”
“Nationwide, only 55% of public housing households have consistent and reliable connections to high speed broadband,” says Megan Conkle, coordinator of the ConnectHome Akron Initiative. “The Barberton WiFi Zone collaboration isn’t just going to impact the almost 800 children and adults currently in our housing, it will also impact all future families who live in our Barberton properties—it is truly a sustainable model.”