Partnership Launched to Help Close the Homework Gap for Rural Students

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High-speed Internet access is essential to Nebraska schoolchildren and a partnership between schools and libraries in five Nebraska communities will demonstrate an innovative way to ensure that children can complete homework assignments and projects. The Nebraska Library Commission has been awarded a National Leadership Sparks Grant of $25,000 by the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) for a partnership project with the Nebraska Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) and five local school districts and public libraries. The Nebraska Schools and Libraries—Breaking the Ice and Igniting Internet Relationships grant is one of 26 projects out of 117 applications to receive funding totaling $5,770,682 to support libraries across the nation.

Five Nebraska rural school districts and public libraries will work together as partners to increase Internet speeds at the public library using fixed wireless technology to provide additional Internet to the library, augmenting the current Internet service. Up to one gigabit (1,000Mbps) of Internet speed will be provided for a designated homework hotspot for school district students and staff. This will help close the “homework gap” that rural students face when attempting to complete homework assignments and school projects without a reliable Internet source at home. The libraries will use the school districts’ network to augment existing Internet service, supplementing it with high-speed Internet access for K-12 students and staff in these school districts so that students can complete homework assignments, collaborate in groups on research projects, access online instruction, work on special projects, and undertake other digital learning activities. Nebraska communities participating in this one-year project beginning June 1 include Bancroft, Genoa, Imperial, Verdigre, and Wymore.

“I am pleased to announce the recipients of IMLS’s highly competitive library grant programs,” said IMLS Director Dr. Kathryn K. Matthew. “These grants leveraged over $2.7 million in matching funds from local partners and community collaborators, helping to ensure the sustainability of these projects and to enhance their reach and impact.”

“As Nebraska students and teachers embrace digital learning, Nebraska public libraries look for new partnership models with schools to ensure equal access to digital learning resources for all students. Students need broadband services outside of school and after school hours. Libraries fill the gap and contribute to educational achievement. This project demonstrates the commitment of Nebraska’s public libraries to provide high-speed Internet service through innovative educational partnerships with schools. We thank the schools and libraries that have committed to demonstrating this innovative approach to school and public library collaboration,” said Nebraska Library Commission Director Rod Wagner.

“The State of Nebraska’s Office of the CIO is pleased to partner with the Nebraska Library Commission on this project to improve Internet access in small, rural public libraries and to leverage the investments made in the state education network, Network Nebraska,” said Ed Toner, the State Chief Information Officer.

This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services [IMLS grant: LG-99-18-0018-18].

The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation’s approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums. Our mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and  civic engagement. Our grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook  and Twitter.

As Nebraska’s state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services—“bringing together people and information.” The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.

The Nebraska Office of the Chief Information Officer (OCIO) is the State’s agency for Information Technology services. Through partnerships with public organizations, the OCIO provides coordinated IT management, enterprise oversight, and reliable solutions to support the business needs of the state agencies, boards, commissions, and political subdivisions serving Nebraska. Its staff helps manage Network Nebraska, the statewide telecommunications network serving public and private K-12 schools and higher education entities. Network Nebraska is uniquely positioned to assist public libraries with faster and lower cost commodity Internet and peered routing achieved through statewide aggregation and consortium E-rate expertise.

 

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