June 30, 2020
Ale ValerianoStaff Writer
Best Buy is teaming up with other prominent Minnesota organizations to help fight the digital divide across the state.
We’re proud to be one of the leaders of the Partnership for a ConnectedMN, a public-private partnership announced by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on June 30. Through avenues like grantmaking, the partnership will support initiatives that help K-12 students from disinvested communities across the state of Minnesota get access to the computing devices and internet access they need to facilitate distance learning and access critical support services.
“As someone who grew up in rural Minnesota in a family without many resources, I am aware of how important this effort is. Without it, far too many of our state’s students will be left behind as we face an uncertain school year, more reliant than ever on the tools and resources necessary to learn remotely,” Best Buy CEO Corie Barry said. “As a founding partner, we are pleased to work with the governor and other organizations to truly ‘connect Minnesota,’ and I call upon my fellow CEOs to engage however they and their businesses are able.”
This initiative is just the latest example of our ongoing commitment to teens and technology, which has remained strong throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve donated millions of dollars in funding for local nonprofits and provided teens with laptops, tablets and internet hotspots to help them stay connected during this time.
In addition to Best Buy, the other founding members of ConnectedMN are the Blandin Foundation, Comcast, Minnesota Business Partnership and Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation. To date, we’ve collectively helped raise almost $2 million in cash and in-kind donations to ensure no student is left behind — no matter what school looks like over the coming year.
Additional organizations who have supported the partnership include Accenture, Andersen Corporation, Boston Scientific, Bush Foundation, Ecolab Foundation, EY, Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation, Land O’Lakes, Mardag Foundation, Minneapolis Foundation, Protolabs Foundation, Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, Securian Financial, SPS Commerce Foundation, Vantage Financial, and Xcel Energy.
Today, technology touches every aspect of lives, but not all have adequate access to it.
A study published this year by Common Sense Media and Kids Action estimates that 250,000 Minnesota students lack high-speed internet and 163,000 students lack adequate devices for remote learning, both of which are essential for academic learning, out-of-school activities and critical services such as telehealth. Students affected are disproportionately students of color, Indigenous students and low-income students in both rural and urban communities.
In the wake of COVID-19 and recent civil injustices in the news, the realities of the longstanding, systemic inequities that families across the nation face are glaring. And the gap between who does and does not have access to the technology and tools required to learn has become more apparent than ever.
Working in partnership with the Gov. Walz’s administration, ConnectedMN will fund projects created by eligible applicants in Minnesota that will help students from disinvested communities across the state access computing devices and high-speed internet access.
“I’m grateful to see Minnesota companies step up and help meet the needs of students,” Gov. Walz said. “We need to work together — as individuals, state agencies, private companies and schools — to face the opportunity gap and make sure that Minnesota is the best state for each and every child to grow up and receive the best education possible.”
Click here for more information about ConnectedMN, including updates on the launch and details on how businesses, philanthropic organizations and individuals can get involved.