Editor’s Picks

Charter Communications Launches Program to Support Online Learning

By Hillary Miller
June 23, 2017

On June 15, Charter Communications launched the Spectrum Digital Education Grant Program, an initiative designed to support charities and organizations that provide eLearning opportunities for families and seniors. The goal of the program is to help educate community members on the benefits of broadband and how to use the internet to improve their lives.

Charter Addresses the Digital Divide

Charter Communications, a broadband internet provider, launched the Spectrum Digital Education Grant Program as a way to correct the growing “digital divide.”

According to the Pew Research Center, more than 25% of Americans don’t have broadband access at home, and the figure is significantly higher among senior citizens, lower income families, and minorities. This gap in access to efficient, high-speed internet access has led to a significant disparity in opportunities.

Children without reliable internet access at home risk falling behind their peers, both because they are unable to access course material outside of school and because they may not acquire the same native understanding of online environments as their peers, leading to a potentially lifelong lack of digital literacy. Adults without at-home broadband will miss out on the extensive professional development and continuing education opportunities that are now available through the web.

For retired community members, the absence of broadband means that they aren’t able to connect with friends and family members, pursue their interests and passions, and develop their skills in a secondary career or hobby as easily as seniors who do have high-speed internet access.

Rahman Khan, Vice President of Corporate Social Responsibility for Charter Communications, explained that this problem was the impetus for the creation of the grant program.

“In an increasingly technology-driven world, the importance of digital education and access to adequate digital resources cannot be overstated,” Khan said in a statement. “The Spectrum Digital Education Grant Program allows Charter to partner with community organizations across the country to help bridge the divide and provide communities in need with the tools to grow and prosper in the digital age.”

Application Details for the Spectrum Digital Education Grant Program

The details of the program were published on the Spectrum Digital Education Grant Program website on June 15. Applications will be open to registered 501(c)(3) organizations in a Spectrum market.

Charter has designated $1 million to be paid out in the form of one-year, non-renewable awards. The program doesn’t specify a cap on the number of grants to be awarded, and grant sizes will generally range from $2,500 to $50,000. A committee of representatives drawn from the leadership teams across numerous Spectrum departments will select the grant recipients.

Committee members will review each application for specific criteria, including how the program addresses the following core questions:

  • To what extent does the program address community needs, with a focus on the digital divide?
  • Based on the proposed budget, is it financially feasible that the program will accomplish its goals at the conclusion of the one-year period?
  • How does the program have a lasting, meaningful, and tangible impact? Tangible accomplishments may include the creation of a mobile computer lab, the development of a new website or app, or expanding the capacities of a digital learning center.

Programs that are in the running for grants will also be assessed for their impact specifically on seniors and families; what makes the program unique compared to similar programs in the region; whether the program features a partnership with any government entities or community groups; and whether the organization can provide metrics that prove the program’s efficacy and impact. 

A single organization may submit multiple applications for separate programs, as long as each program individually meets the grant requirements.

The application period opens on June 30, 2017, and closes at 11:59 PM ET on August 11.

Review of the applications will begin on August 14. By September 29, organizations will be notified whether they have been selected to receive a grant. Disbursement will occur during October 2017.

Anyone interested in applying can get started on the Spectrum Digital Education Grant Program website.