Keeping up with the latest tech trends and developments is tough for everyone in every industry. It’s such a significant task that it even impacts people outside of industry: Elementary and secondary school students.
Many schools across the Commonwealth don’t have the time or resources to integrate new technology quickly, which can prevent them from taking advantage of the next generation of teaching and learning tools. Over time, this created a technology gap in many school districts, which state legislators wanted to address. Their response was to allocate funding that led to the launch of the Digital Connections Partnership Schools Grant, which Tech Services and Security oversees to deploy digital infrastructure to Massachusetts schools.
The municipal government team works with the Department of Education, non profits, and other organizations to make sure the program is run as effectively as possible. This collaboration is a hallmark of the program, making sure the needs of students and educators are heard and acted on.
The program is structured to help school districts get the most of their investments, with three distinct ways to provide funding:
Tech Services pays for Wi-Fi infrastructure costs.
Communities match the value of the Tech Services investment, with incentives to fund device purchases and professional training.
Tech Services navigates the application process for federal E-rate reimbursement on behalf of schools, helping the state maximize education investments.
Since the first grants were awarded in 2015, more than 113 schools have been helped by the grant, positively impacting about 60,000 students and 4,000 teachers. Overall, the Tech Services team working on the program has facilitated more than $11 million in education-focused technology investments.
The impact has been significant: Teachers have reported higher rates of engagement among students who thrive on digital channels, and educators have cited having better digital tools as a great way to connect with students for personalized instruction. New technology shouldn’t be a barrier to education. It should create new opportunities for learning. The Digital Connections Partnership Schools Grant provides the framework for Massachusetts schools to provide those opportunities to both students and teachers.
Karthik Viswanathan, Assistant Secretary
"This grant program is incredibly popular with schools across the state. It provides them with the technology to help today's students who not only like digital channels, but are more comfortable with them. It's all about staying current."