'90% don't have Wi-Fi:' Milwaukee group's hotspots bridge digital divide

Several weeks into the school year, some Milwaukee area school district leaders are still looking for resources to help kids learn, and organizations are stepping up to help.
Students at the Milwaukee Academy of Science are able to complete a job well done partially because of the staff, community and family support.  

Brianna McQuality

Brianna McQuality

"Really just embracing it to the best we can," said Brianna McQuality, who teaches second-grade math. 

McQuality has been teaching virtually since the school year started remotely, but enabling success has more challenges because of the pandemic.

Anthony McHenry

Anthony McHenry

"90% of or families did not have either a tech device or wi-fi so our ability to serve our families was really an equity issues as our children are tyring to compete with their counterparts in suburbs and children across the country," said Anthony McHenry, CEO at the public charter school.

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McHenry said COVID-19 has highlighted some of the disparities. 


"If you just consider the Milwaukee Academy of Science (MAS), 1,300 students, 95% of them economically disadvantaged, but on a given day, about 100 of our kids are classified as homeless, so our ability to connect with those families and continue to connect them with resources at this given time is critical," said McHenry.
School leaders said they're grateful for a partnership with City Forward Collective. The group rallied resources, devices and hotspot capabilities. However, according to McHenry...
"There is definitely still a need," said McHenry. "We are fortunate that almost 1,300 kids have devices, but the reality is those devices break."

Virtual learning

Officials are looking for help to repair this digital divide so students can continue to flourish. 

"I believe we will all succeed and get through this no matter what," said McQuality.
City Forward Collective is providing mobile hotspot devices with internet service plans to 30 schools. The Northwestern Mutual Foundation made a $75,000 donation to these efforts.