Schools awarded electronics grant

CANFIELD — Canfield High School, West Branch Middle School and Mahoning Unlimited Classroom have received the Connect for Success grant, giving more students access to laptops.

Mobile Beacon will supply the schools with 25 laptops and hot spots. Each hot spot can support up to 10 devices, and the equipment can be used by students before, during or after school. The laptops will have Microsoft Suite products.

Mobile Beacon of Rhode Island was created by the North American Catholic Educational Programming Foundation. Founded in 2019, the company works to help schools libraries and nonprofits connect to the internet. Free, unlimited 4G LTE internet access will be provided for 12 months, with the option to continue internet service once the year is complete.

Renee English, a teacher at Canfield High School and spokeswoman for the district, said she received word in October that the school was named to the grant, which was surprising.

“I honestly didn’t think we were going to receive it,” she said, because the district is not struggling economically, making it rare that grants will be awarded.

English said that the hot spots will also help with internet access. The existing Wi-Fi signal doesn’t permeate though the older high school building, where 900 students attend classes.

Mirroring English’s excitement for the Wi-Fi, Sean Sich, principal of Mahoning Unlimited Classroom, said that the internet access will help students with their studies.

Located in the former Lynn Kirk Elementary in Austintown, Mahoning Unlimited Classroom is an online school, giving students the freedom to complete work from home or remotely.

Sich explained that oftentimes when students don’t have access to transportation easily, there isn’t access to internet, whether at home or at a library.

“These hot spots will be so helpful to our students,” Sich said, adding that some students also change addresses frequently, leaving them without consistent internet accessibility. The hot spots, he said, will allow a continuance of internet.

There are 98 enrolled in Mahoning Unlimited Classroom.

Megan Woods, a librarian at West Branch Middle School, read about the grant and “immediately applied in hopes of bringing internet service to students who do not have access.” Students will have access to the equipment at the library.

Stephen Fowler, principal of the middle school, said that the equipment came with a price tag of about $22,000, which helped the district out due to “financial constraints.”

“We can’t keep asking for funding. We have to go find it in other ways,” he said, adding that this instance of Woods finding and applying for the grant is one of several opportunities when faculty have looked for grants.

Some students in the West Branch district don’t have access to high speed broadband, and the hot spots will help ensure they can complete their research at home.


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