Hamilton County Schools' free internet program increases parental involvement, research shows

Contributed photo by Gabrielle Chevalie / Preliminary research on Hamilton County Schools' EdConnect program shows that free internet at home increases parental engagement for low-income families.

Since the EdConnect program launched in 2020, more than 16,000 low-income students - and 28,000 of their family members - have received free internet in their homes. While the effort works to close the digital divide, researchers have discovered another benefit: Parents are showing more involvement in the education of their children.

That is important because, historically, low-income families are less likely to be engaged with their children's education, said Gabrielle Chevalier, marketing and communications manager for the Enterprise Center, one of the organizations that helped launch EdConnect.

"When you provide internet access ubiquitously to students and their families, you all of a sudden have this elimination of the difference between which families engage with the school and which don't," Chevalier said by phone.

In addition to the Enterprise Center, EdConnect was created through a $7.9