Miami Connected is a highly anticipated effort to bring free broadband internet connectivity, digital literacy, and career opportunities in technology to more than 100,000 students and their families in Miami-Dade County. This public-private partnership represents a unified effort to make Miami-Dade the most technologically inclusive county in the nation. Led by The Miami Foundation and Achieve Miami, Miami Connected will work closely with a variety of partners including Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami-Dade County, the City of Miami, local community-based organizations, and a variety of philanthropic supporters.
Yes! Miami is now recognized as the second least-connected large city in the country, closely followed by Hialeah (No. 2 and No. 8 for cities with 50,000+ households). Data from Census/American Community Survey estimates show that 100,000 students (60,000 households) in Miami-Dade County do not have broadband internet in their homes. We also know that our most disadvantaged communities are also the least connected - some of the least-connected communities in Miami-Dade include Liberty City/Brownsville, where more than 50% of families do not have access to the internet, as well as Little Haiti, Hialeah, Overtown, Allapattah, Homestead, and Florida City. These communities are effectively left out of education pathways, economic opportunities, health services, and overall basic community connections.
Students enrolled in select Title I schools will be eligible to sign up for free internet through Miami Connected. Eligibility will begin on a school-by-school basis, starting in the Overtown community. If your student attends Miami-Dade County Public Schools, please join our waitlist to be notified if/when your student becomes eligible for this opportunity.
Approved applicants will receive internet through the Comcast Internet Essentials program, which offers 50mbps download/5mbps upload broadband internet completely free of charge for participants of Miami Connected.
Digital literacy refers to the ability to navigate the internet. Much like librarians teach students how to use a table of contents, index, and the Dewey Decimal System, teachers are needed to teach both students and adults how to find, interpret, and create content in a digital space. Hiller Spires, professor of literacy and technology at North Carolina State University, views digital literacy as three buckets:
- Finding and consuming digital content, which includes using search engines as well as reading and navigating online experiences (like knowing how and when to click links in an article). Productive consumption of digital content requires the ability to distinguish between credible and non-credible sources; unfortunately, this is an area where our community needs support. The results of surveys conducted in 2016 and 2019 demonstrate that “the share of adults in the United States who were very confident in their ability to distinguish real news from false information dropped from 39 to 26 percent in three years,” which showcases the need for digital literacy interventions.
- Creating digital content, which includes emailing, blogging, tweeting, podcasting, etc. All community members need the ability to make their voice heard in our digital world.
- Communicating and sharing information appropriately, which includes internet users knowing how to safely and productively share information and participate in civic society as well as contribute to a vibrant, informed and engagement community. This would also include completing forms: for example, if someone were filing a housing discrimination complaint online, “the digital literacy skills involved might include basic word processing, creating and retrieving a word-processed document, copying text from the document into an online form, including one’s e-mail address with other contact information, and submitting the online form.”
While schools, teachers, and some organizations are beginning to work with students and adults to develop these skills, a tremendous opportunity remains to provide more comprehensive and accessible training opportunities.
The COVID-19 pandemic has already contributed to months of learning loss for our students, particularly Black and Latino students, and experts also anticipate a significant increase in high school drop-out rates as students are separated from support services and academic enrichment opportunities. Beyond the direct impact on individual student earning potential, this also reduces our economy’s ability to recover and rebuild with fewer talented high school and college graduates seeking value-generating work. An investment in our students - ensuring they have the basics they need to learn and stay in school - is also an investment in our economy’s competitiveness and our community’s potential.
For students already seeking part-time work as well as their families and caretakers, the internet has become an essential tool for securing job training, reliable employment, and support services. From successfully applying for unemployment benefits to searching for jobs and completing virtual interviews, all the way to securing a telehealth appointment at a free clinic if a family member becomes ill while uninsured, internet connectivity can be either a resource or a roadblock as a family tries to get back on its feet. Further, while some households may have had an internet subscription in the past but can no longer afford it after pandemic-related job loss or expenses, many households have never been able to afford the internet - this was an often overlooked inequity that pre-dates COVID-19. By now securing connectivity for every student household, we are ensuring that families can access the resources and opportunities they need to recover from the pandemic and build back a stronger Miami.
We also invite other businesses, community organizations, and community leaders to become partners with us in launching Miami Connected. If you or your business/organization have an idea of how you might contribute to this partnership, please visit our Become a Partner page.
for more information on getting involved with our leadership and quickly growing talent pool around the Miami area.