TULSA — State and city officials announced an internet access plan and City of Tulsa programming for Tulsans impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Governor Kevin Stitt, Mayor G.T. Bynum, Tulsa Public Schools Superintendent Deborah Gist and officials from Impact Tulsa made the announcements during a press conference on Thursday.
In April 2020, city officials began working with Impact Tulsa, Tulsa Public Schools, Jenks Public Schools and Union Public Schools to create an Internet Access Taskforce. This taskforce found that 15% of Tulsa County families had no internet access at home, one in three household don’t have “wireline” broadband for virtual learning/meetings, almost 57,000 households in the city and around 20,000 students in Tulsa don’t have reliable internet at home.
Therefore, with the State of Oklahoma’s allocation of Coronavirus Relief Funds, the City of Tulsa will provide internet access to Tulsa families. The city is utilizing $5.6 million of the funds to make this plan happen.
We have been working with our school districts and community stakeholders since April of this year to identify solutions for Tulsa families and students as our community navigates one of the worst pandemics of our lifetime. Through the use of CARES dollars, we will be providing better opportunity and internet access for more than 22,000 Tulsa families, providing a clear path for our children to receive the help they need with their education during this critical time in our city. I want to thank all of our stakeholders for their work on the Internet Access Taskforce and give a special thanks to the State of Oklahoma for providing funding to make this possible.
Mayor G.T. Bynum
Funding for internet access will focus on the following areas:
- $2.7 million will provide high-speed, reliable Wi-Fi to all Tulsa Housing Authority complexes – impacting nearly 2,500 families and more than 8,000 Tulsans. In partnership with Cox Communications, this program will provide free Internet for the next three years.
- $2.4 million will provide high-speed internet coverage for up to 20,000 public school families that currently lack an internet subscription. This funding will provide free Internet to families for the next year.
- $500,000 will fund internet access navigators through Tulsa Responds and Tulsa’s powerful network of non-profit organizations, ensuring families know about the subscription opportunities while providing a group of individuals that will help navigate technological challenges for students and families.
During the press conference, Gov. Stitt also awarded the City of Tulsa with over $30 million in CARES Act funding to help with community driven programs for Tulsans impacted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Federal funds through the CARES Act were directly awarded to cities with populations over 500,000. With Tulsa’s population at 401,190, it is the largest city in the state of Oklahoma to not receive any direct allocation.
With the funding, the City of Tulsa will focus on the below programming in the coming months:
- Addressing unbudgeted costs incurred due to the public health emergency
- Making safety modifications to community facilities
- Supporting vulnerable Tulsans
- Providing job training, facilitating remote work, and supporting entrepreneurial ventures for COVID-19 displaced workers
- Increasing access to capital and helping small businesses establish an online presence
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