RI Department of Education and PPL Partner to Offer 1200+ Chromebooks to Adult Learners

May 18, 2022

The Rhode Island Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (RIDE) today announced that in partnership with the Providence Public Library (PPL) and the Federal Communications Commission’s Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), more than 1,200 Chromebooks will be distributed directly to eligible Adult Education learners under long-term loan agreements this spring.

Funding for the Chromebooks is provided through the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), which was signed into law by President Joe Biden on March 11, 2021 as part of the larger American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The ECF is managed by the FCC’s Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) which administers the E-Rate program for libraries and schools, and is designed to make sure students and library users have access to both broadband and devices to get online and to close the digital divide.

“Our adult learners are highly motivated adults who are committed to their education but have been hampered by a lack of access to internet connectivity and devices, and have been disproportionately impacted by the pandemic,” said Commissioner Angélica Infante-Green. “Through this partnership with the Providence Public Library, we are proud to support the Adult Education ecosystem across the state of Rhode Island with critical resources.”

This transformational initiative was possible through strategic collaboration between RIDE and PPL. PPL led the development and submission of the application for more than $375,500 in ECF funds and is managing the purchase of devices. RIDE’s statewide network of Adult Education programs enables targeted distribution of Chromebooks to lower skilled Rhode Island adults who do not otherwise have access to devices, and who are developing their digital literacy skills through participation in Adult Education programming.

“PPL and its partners serve thousands of adult learners each year through our statewide digital navigation and learning services, and access to technology and technology training is far and away the greatest challenge among those in our community seeking to further their education and career readiness,” said PPL Executive Director Jack Martin. “These devices will go a long way in meeting this challenge for so many adult learners in Rhode Island.”

Closing equity gaps is a shared priority for RIDE and PPL. The Chromebooks, paired with digital literacy skill development delivered by Adult Education programs, will mitigate the digital divide for more than 1,200 Rhode Islanders, including parents of school-age children. Digital literacy skills are essential skills for workforce and community participation in the 21st century, and development of adults’ foundational skills benefits the whole family.

RIDE currently funds 20 programs across Rhode Island to deliver Adult Education and literacy services – including GED, workforce training, and English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) – that support Rhode Island adults in gaining skills and credentials for college and career, engaged citizenship, and family and community leadership.

To learn more about Adult Education in Rhode Island, please visit: https://www.ride.ri.gov/StudentsFamilies/EducationPrograms/AdultEducationGED.aspx.