Bridging the digital divide: AT&T to unveil its Connected Learning Center at Esperanza this week

Cleveland ranks as the least-connected city in the United States, of cities with 100,000 households or more—preventing many Cleveland students from accessing the digital leaning resources and tools that are necessary in today’s digital learning environment.

The center will be equipped with Dell computers, high-speed AT&T fiber Internet and Wi-Fi, as well as educational and digital literacy content.As parents and educators continue to search for ways to close the digital divide, AT&T has stepped in to narrow that gap with its new AT&T Connected Learning Centers.

Earlier this year the company announced it would be opening 20 Connected Learning Centers across the country as part of its Connected Learning program—part of a three-year $2 billion commitment to bridge the digital divide through efforts that promote broadband affordability, accessibility, and adoption— and Cleveland would be one of the first eight cities to get a Center.

AT&T in September launched its first Connected Learning Center in Dallas, where AT&T is headquartered.

This Wednesday, Dec. 15, AT&T will unveil its Connected Learning Center at Esperanza, Inc., the nonprofit community center in the Clark-Fulton neighborhood—making the center among the first to open in the country.





Esperanza, which is dedicated to improving academic achievement among Hispanic students, will now be equipped with the resources Cleveland students and families need for virtual learning and navigating the Internet safely and effectively.

The center will be equipped with Dell computers, high-speed AT&T fiber Internet and Wi-Fi, as well as educational and digital literacy content from organizations like Khan Academy and the Public Library Association.

AT&T Ohio external affairs director Tony Costanzo, who grew up on Poe Avenue in Clark-Fulton, says he’s pleased that AT&T is dedicated to bridging the digital divide in Cleveland and his home neighborhood.

“AT&T’s investment in the AT&T Connected Learning Center at Esperanza is a reflection of the company and its employees’ ongoing commitment to addressing the digital divide in our neighborhoods,” he says. “I’m very proud of the AT&T commitment to the city of Cleveland and this Connected Learning Center, and we’re looking forward to telling Clevelanders much more about it next week. We will provide critical connectivity and digital resources to connect some of Cleveland’s underserved students and families to today’s digital world.”

Out of all U.S. cities with more than 100,000 households, Cleveland has the lowest rate of connectivity, according to the U.S. Census Bureau 2018 American Community Survey one-year estimates. In a 2019 American Community Survey, about 30.73% of Cleveland households had no broadband access, and 45.96% had no wired connection.

On Wednesday, Costanzo and AT&T assistant vice president of corporate social responsibility Mylayna Albright will be at Esperanza, 3104 W. 25th St. to welcome Cleveland Mayor-elect Justin Bibb; Cleveland City Council ward 9 councilperson Kevin Conwell, Esperanza executive director Victor Ruiz; Ashbury Senior Computer Community executive director Wanda Davis; and Cleveland Foundation chief of digital innovation and Chief Information Officer Leon Wilson.

Read more articles by Karin Connelly Rice.

Karin Connelly Rice enjoys telling people's stories, whether it's a promising startup or a life's passion. Over the past 20 years she has reported on the local business community for publications such as Inside Business and Cleveland Magazine. She was editor of the Rocky River/Lakewood edition of In the Neighborhood and was a reporter and photographer for the Amherst News-Times. At Fresh Water she enjoys telling the stories of Clevelanders who are shaping and embracing the business and research climate in Cleveland.