Free WiFi is coming to Seattle community centers and affordable housing developments thanks to a $344,000 grant from Google.
The tech giant today announced the donation, which is part of Mayor Ed Murray’s Digital Equity Initiative that also rolled out new strategies on Wednesday.
With the grant, Seattle Housing Authority will provide Internet to 800 K-12 students and their families living in low-income households which the city found as “the most technology disadvantaged and disconnected.” The money will go toward five neighborhoods: Yesler Terrace, Rainier Vista, NewHolly, High Point and Lake City Court.
All 26 Seattle Parks and Recreation Community Centers will also enjoy free WiFi on behalf of Google. The company’s donation will also be used to replace 31 outdated computers at five “RecTech Community Technology Labs” in the Delridge, Rainier, Rainier Beach, South Park and Yesler Terrace community centers that are used for digital literacy training and youth programs.
A City of Seattle study from 2014 found that at least 15 percent of Seattle residents have no Internet service at home — that percentage is even higher for immigrant and refugee families.
“Too many Seattle residents have no regular access to the Internet, and find themselves disconnected from the wealth of educational and community resources the Internet offers,” Darcy Nothnagle, Google’s head of external affairs for the Northwest, said in a statement. “These grants aim to help bring access to those who need it most.”
Google, which employs nearly 2,000 in Washington, has given more than $14.4 million to non-profits and schools across the state since 2011. The company provided $225,000 to fund a Seattle Public Library hotspot program last year and donated $200,000 for a public WiFi network near the company’s Kirkland engineering office, which recently expanded.
Google also recently announced that it is moving into a new 4-building complex in Seattle’s South Lake Union neighborhood.