Gates and Zuckerberg lead $9M funding round for group helping schools upgrade their Internet access

1348157671The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Mark Zuckerberg’s Startup:Education initiative have led a $9 million funding round for EducationSuperHighway (ESH), a non-profit organization that aims to help schools get better Internet access.

At the moment, ESH is working to expand its speed test survey to the rest of the country, and is also focused on lobbying for an update to the FCC’s E-Rate program, which helps libraries and schools get discounted Internet access.

According to ESH’s SchoolSpeedTest program, E-Rate needs the upgrade. The organization says that 72 percent of the schools tested don’t have broadband access with enough capacity to “support digital learning.”

The organization’s mission dovetails with what Zuckerberg is doing elsewhere around the world with Internet.org, and he says that ensuring American students have quality Internet is key to students’ futures.

“When schools and teachers have access to reliable Internet connections, students can discover new skills and ideas beyond the classroom,” Zuckerberg said in a press release. “The future of our economy and society depend largely on the next generation using and building new online tools and services, and I’m glad to support EducationSuperHighway’s work.”