Zuckerberg, Gates foundations give $9 million to improve schools' Net connections

Lauren Williams's picture
Thursday, December 5, 2013

In the backyard of Facebook, Oracle and moneyed Sand Hill Road, more than half of public schools lack the Internet speed and connectivity needed to harness digital learning.

Still, they're far better off than the nation as a whole: An estimated 70 percent of schools endure slow speeds or lack wireless connections, according to partial findings of an ambitious national survey by the San Francisco-based nonprofit EducationSuperHighway.

The effort to expand schools' digital infrastructure will get a boost from a $9 million grant, announced Wednesday, mainly from Mark Zuckerberg's Startup-Education foundation and the Gates Foundation.

The grant will enable EducationSuperHighway to get more schools to test their Internet speeds. So far, 26 state education departments -- but not California's -- have signed on to assess their schools' digital tools. "You can't fix it if you don't know where the problem is," said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway.

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