The University of Georgia football team has kicked off its initiative called “Dawgs For Pups” by pledging to raise money for WiFi hotspots for Clarke County students.
After the idea arose from a recent team meeting, the Bulldogs will be participating in a number of “Dawgs For Pups” activities in the Athens area and beyond to help students and others affected by the recent COVID-19 pandemic. The first activity will help supply families who have kindergarten to eighth grade students with WiFi hotspots. This access to an internet connection will help students stay connected with their virtual classroom.
“As our Clarke County School District has moved to online learning, making sure that students have access to technology is more critical than ever,” said Clarke County School District Chief of Operations (District Services) Dexter Fisher. “It’s of the utmost importance that we work to ‘bridge the digital divide’ and help ensure that all students can continue learning, even while outside their normal school settings. In these times of uncertainty, our school district providing a safe and secure distance learning environment is one of our top priorities. Continuity of education, as well as digital equity, is absolutely necessary. It gives all of our students the opportunity to succeed and close the achievement gap if they have the needed internet access in their homes.”
The Clarke County School District has already deployed 500 mobile hotspots and are aiming to add another 1,200 hotspots to help with distance learning. While the district is installing WiFi on busses to use in densely populated areas and increasing the signal in school parking areas, the Athens Housing Authority is working to ensure all public housing residents with school-age children have Internet access and the Athens-Clarke County government is chipping in to help install hotspots at 14 county-owned sites and parks. However, there is a need for more hotspots in the county and the Bulldogs will be working to fill that void.
“Helping out the youth in this area is so important because they are our future,” said senior defensive back Eric Stokes. “I have a platform (at the University of Georgia) and I am trying to use that platform and make it as big as it can go. And I want to try and use that platform to help out younger kids where they can get to the place where I am or pass where I am now.”
“During our team meeting, I talked about breaking the cycle in our community and I have realized that being in Athens and being at the University of Georgia, we kind of lead this community without knowing it,” said freshman defensive lineman Warren Brinson. “Youth in our community need to have something to look forward to, something they can be great at. Education is one of the most important things in your life. These kids in kindergarten through eighth grade are in their developmental years where they are growing the most so not having Wi-Fi for them during this period would mean losing all of that time.”
The donations will help support the more than 1,000 families in Clarke County who do not have the Internet access needed for online learning. For only $20, donors can sponsor a family’s unlimited high-speed date plan for a month. For $60, donors can sponsor a family’s WiFi for the fall semester.
Following the first “Dawgs For Pups” activity, the Georgia football team will spearhead several other initiatives to continue to do their part in the Athens community. Announcements about those activities are expected in the coming weeks.