Grant To Expand Library’s Wi-Fi Loan Program

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Thanks to a grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services, administered by the South Carolina State Library, a pilot partnership between Beaufort County's public schools and libraries to bring internet access to some families living in rural northern Beaufort County has been so successful that the library has been awarded a $23,194 grant to expand the program. The Beaufort County Library has partnered with Beaufort County, the Beaufort County School District and wireless provider Kajeet to expand the reach and benefits of free access to the internet to underserved youth and communities by expanding the SmartSpot Educational Broadband Program.

The grant allows for 50 middle school students and their families in the areas of Lobeco, Sheldon, St. Helena Island and Yemassee to borrow the hot spot devices for the remainder of the school year. The SmartSpot devices use cellular networks to create a personal broadband internet hot spot and provide portable, high-speed internet connectivity that can be shared between multiple users. The program comes at no cost to the school district, as Beaufort County funded the initial pilot project for Kajeet MiFi devices and Internet access through its library budget, according to library director Ray McBride.