(stock image courtesy: Pexels/Vojtech Okenka)

A coalition of South Bend organizations is expanding a program that provides free at-home internet and hotspot connections to qualifying students. The Citywide Classroom South Bend partnership, which includes the South Bend Community School Corp., the city of South Bend, and local nonprofit enFocus, says the program will now include students, teachers, staff and school employees. The program will expand to include an additional 2,800 users.

The group says during a needs-based rollout of at-home internet connections and WiFi hotspots, more than 2,800 connections have been distributed to students in South Bend.

Additionally, students who have already received a hotspot with 1-year coverage will automatically receive a new hotspot with 5 years of coverage upon expiration of the 1-year connection. 

“We’re thrilled that we’re able to open this resource to so many more of our students and families,” said Patrick Stalvey, Chief Technology Officer for South Bend Community Schools. “As educators, we know that accessible and reliable internet connectivity is crucial for the success of our students, now more than ever.”

The partnership says 30% of South Bend households lack home internet access. The initial program was funded through a $1.8 million grant provided through the Governors Emergency Education Relief program.