Internet hotspots were also installed at the Kings Center,
As he kicked off a new internet access program for students Friday, Frankfort Independent Schools Superintendent Houston Barber said it was a historic day.
The kickoff event, held at the Kings Center, brought together community leaders and students to celebrate the program that has been in the works for over two years. It aims to eliminate barriers and provide all children with access to the same resources.
The program will install modems and free internet in the homes of Franklin Independent Schools students who previously had no access. Internet hotspots were also installed at the Kings Center, F.D. Wilkinson Gym and the Walter Todd Community Center for student use. The project is intended to assist students with their educational needs, as well as prepare them for joining the workforce in the future.
“This is a great opportunity. Giving access to young children and families will allow them to do the research needed,” Barber said. Home installations are taking place right now and happening in homes that have never had it, he said, adding that when you close the digital gap, dreams come alive.
Mayor Bill May said the program offers an opportunity to bridge the digital divide — inequality in accessing information — so everyone can have the same opportunities.
“I think it is a positive model and proof that when we work together, good things happen,” May said.
Having worked with underprivileged youth for many years, Commissioner Scott Tippett said he is excited about the program.
“As a retired teacher, it’s a beautiful thing. Dr. Barber is to be commended,” Tippett said. “He cares about the school district and the community.”
Barber acknowledged that the program would not have happened without the collaborative effort of the Frankfort Plant Board and Kentucky Capital Development Corp., the community’s economic-development agency.
The project is possible thanks to $60,000 from KCDC, with the actual installation being handled by the Plant Board.
“I can’t say enough about the Plant Board for making this happen,” Barber said.
The program is important to the jobs we have in the community, said Terry Bradshaw, president and CEO of KCDC.
“All education is career education. I’m really excited to see how it affects the lives of young people,” Bradshaw said.
Amiyah Jones, 12, is one of the students who has benefitted from the program by utilizing the free WiFi at the Kings Center.
“Thank you for the WiFi at the Kings Center. With the new WiFi, we’re able to do things that we were only able to do at school before,” Amiyah said.
Natalee Cleveland is program coordinator at the Kings Center. She also expressed gratitude.
“I’m just so excited that the kids will be able to access everything they couldn’t access at home,” Cleveland said.