CHICAGO — Chance the Rapper and Ludacris joined Internet Essentials and city and school leaders at Alcott College Prep on Tuesday afternoon to kick off the popular Get Schooled, Get Connected Spring Challenge, which is designed to help thousands of Chicago Public Schools (CPS) students prepare for college.
Throughout the spring challenge, more than 112,000 CPS students will have access to free educational tools, resources and games – or “quests” – to engage with even when the school day ends. The quests include information about topics ranging from how to succeed in school and plan for your education to how to apply for college and financial aid resources.
This content is delivered through an online technology platform on getschooledgetconnected.com, and it features a series of pop culture references and localized information that maintains students’ interest.
“Data from the Get Schooled, Get Connected Fall Challenge shows the content not only holds students’ interest, but the platform also engages and educates them about college opportunities,” Alcott College Prep assistant principal Grace Moody said. “The challenge is a great tool for CPS students who want to go to college and for educators who want to help them advance.”
Students may become eligible for prizes depending on the number of quests they complete and points they earn. Individual prizes include special celebrity VIP meet-and-greets, $1,000 Get Schooled scholarships, concert and sports tickets, laptops, athletic wear and gaming systems. The schools with the most student points will receive support from Internet Essentials and the CPS-affiliated Children’s First Fund to enhance their classrooms and school technology.
In January, Internet Essentials provided $100,000 in support for school foundations and community-based organizations, whose participants earned the most points during the inaugural three-month challenge. Over the past 18 months, Internet Essentials has provided more than $200,000 in support throughout the Chicagoregion.
“Having home Internet access can transform a young person’s life, because it opens an entire world to special programs like the Get Schooled, Get Connected Challenge,” said Chance the Rapper, a graduate of Jones College Prep and recipient of Chicago’s 2014 Outstanding Youth of the Year award for his community service work. “One student and one family at a time, this program will help close the digital divide by engaging and educating students throughout Chicago.”
Chance the Rapper was just one of the celebrities who helped motivate and celebrate student success during the hip fall challenge. Actress and singer-songwriter Christina Milian, singer-songwriter B.o.B, MTV’s Sway Calloway, White Sox executive vice president Ken Williams, Chicago Bears safety Ryan Mundy and offensive lineman Jordan Mills, Chicago Fire forward Harry Shipp, former Chicago Bears offensive lineman James “Big Cat” Williams and former Chicago Bulls forward Sidney Green also personally engaged with thousands of students during the fall initiative.
“Students need Internet access to succeed in school, and families need it to succeed economically,” said Ludacris, who has gone on to become a movie and rap sensation after attending Oak Park-River Forest High School. “I went to high school in this area, so I know first-hand how important it is for students and families to have Internet access at home.”
Internet Essentials is a major resource for students participating in the spring challenge. Eligible students and their families may receive affordable Internet service at home for $9.95 per month plus tax, along with an Internet-ready computer for $150 and access to free digital literacy training.
Since launching in August 2011, Internet Essentials has engaged and helped more Chicago families connect to the power of the Internet than any other city in the country. For the fourth year in a row, the Chicago metro area leads the way with more than 50,000 families benefitting, more than 200,000 low-income Chicagoans.
That is nearly 25 percent of the eligible population in Chicago that has signed up.
Overall in Illinois, 60,000 families or 240,000 individuals benefit from Internet Essentials. Nationally, Internet Essentials has connected more than 450,000 low-income families or more than 1.8 million people in just three and a half years. To put that in perspective, 1.8 million equals two-thirds of the population of the entire city ofChicago.
“It is vital for CPS students and families to stay connected beyond school hours to ensure they remain life-long learners,” said Dr. Shawn Jackson, CPS Deputy Chief of Teaching and Learning.
In conjunction with Internet Essentials and the Chicago City of Learning, CPS also has launched CPS Connects, which provides students free virtual learning opportunities as well as live activities across Chicago at locations like the Museum of Science and Industry, Adler Planetarium and Lincoln Park Zoo. CPS Connects provides students with connected learning environments by linking learning in school, home and community.