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United Way to expand NKY Digital Equity Initiative for Students to Grant County, opens up virtual learning

United Way of Greater Cincinnati will expand its NKY Digital Equity Initiative for Students into Grant County, supplying 128 additional households with six months of internet service so K-12 students can fully participate in virtual learning.

The expansion partnership involves Cincinnati Bell and The RC Durr Foundation. United Way and The Durr Foundation each pitched in $5,000 to serve the Grant County households. This partnership expands on a pilot project serving school districts in Boone County, Kenton County, Campbell County, Covington Independent Public Schools, Erlanger-Elsmere Independent, Newport Independent, Dayton Independent, Ludlow Independent, Southgate Independent and Bellevue Independent.

The initial pilot aims to serve 884 homes and was funded by Greater Cincinnati Foundation and Horizon Community Funds. United Way is raising additional funding to eventually serve more than 1,000 Northern Kentucky homes under the pilot. The partnership expanding the project into Grant County adds to that.

“Our pilot project is on pace to help more than 1,000 families and we still weren’t meeting the great need,” said Moira Weir, president and CEO of United Way of Greater Cincinnati. “We were fortunate to bring everyone together for this expansion. Digital inequity creates unequal access to information, technology and opportunities to learn, which further widens the well-documented achievement gap. We saw this amplified with remote learning under COVID-19.”

Amanda Greenwell, director of United Way’s Northern Kentucky Area Center, said there is still an opportunity to sponsor more homes in need. Organizations and individuals can support Northern Kentucky fund-raising efforts by texting “NKYWIFI” to 71777. A $78 donation will connect a household for six months of service at $12.99 a month.

“School districts have been eager to enroll in the initiative and ensure their students have access to technology because they know how important this is for both academics and staying connected during COVID-19,” she said. “It plays a part in mental health.”

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