Detroit’s leading businesses and organizations are teaming up to help the city’s youth.  

The plan? The DTE Energy Foundation, Detroit Public Schools Community District, Kellogg Foundation, Quicken Loans, General Motors and The Skillman Foundation will put a computer with high-speed internet, along with technical support, into the hands of every Detroit Public Schools Community District (DPSCD) K-12 student before the school year closes. This Connected Futures Initiative addresses the digital divide that has been made even more clear throughout the COVID-19 crisis.

“When our executive team began prioritizing COVID-19 relief efforts, the issue of digital inequity for Detroit students rose to the top,” said DTE Energy President and CEO Jerry Norcia. “We recognized that we needed to take action urgently to close the digital divide for these students and provide them with the tools necessary to thrive in the 21st century. Today, the Detroit community commits to our children’s futures. It’s time for us to level the playing field for the students of Detroit.”

The school district estimates that only 10% of its students have access to both a device and internet access. When schools were closed in early March, this issue was even more clear as students could not take advantage of online learning or connect with teachers on video chats.

Former educator Nancy Moody, vice president of DTE’s public affairs, was a key player in bringing this issue to our company’s attention, with her passion for education she knew we could help. The program was off the ground in three weeks, truly a group effort from these dedicated businesses.

The school district understands that year-round access elevates student’s overall learning. Now, students will be able to keep up school work and lessons on their own time, to avoid forgetting school work from the previous year over the summer. The program will benefit the entire family as well: students can learn while their families will be able to easily search and apply for jobs.

To be successful, the program must be sustainable. Both DPSCD and DTE have committed a project manager to this initiative. DPSCD, the City of Detroit, DTE, Quicken Loans and the Skillman Foundation have created a committee to oversee the initiative as well.

“When we look back to this time in 10 years, we will see that this moment changed the trajectory of education in our city,” said Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan. “We have risen to the challenge of this pandemic and found a way to forge something positive for our children. This will be a defining moment of pride in Detroit for many, many years.”