Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, July 9, 2021

EPB, partners receive national APPA award

EPB and its HCS EdConnect partners recently received the American Public Power Association Sue Kelly Community Service Award at the APPA National Conference in Orlando.

The award recognizes activities that demonstrate the commitment of the utility and its employees to the community.

Not long after the COVID-19 pandemic began, EPB joined with Hamilton County Schools, the City of Chattanooga, Hamilton County, The Enterprise Center and other public and private partners to address the need for at-home learners to have access to high-speed internet regardless of their financial position.

The result was the formation of HCS EdConnect, a program that provides fiber optic internet services to every economically disadvantaged K-12 student in the Hamilton County Schools system at no charge.

The program launched in July of last year. Qualifying families receive broadband internet with symmetrical upload and download speeds and no data caps through EPB’s fiber optic network.

As part of the program, EPB also installs a Wi-Fi router at no charge and helps set up each student’s learning devices.

EPB has connected more than 14,000 students – more than one-third of Hamilton County Schools’ students – to HCS EdConnect at no charge. Including their families, this represents more than 25,000 individuals.

These families are able to keep their high-speed internet connection year-round for up to 10 years as long as they continue to qualify for the program.

EPB and its HCS EdConnect partners have already begun enrolling new students to join the program for the 2021-2022 school year.

Funding partners have provided $7.9 million to cover upfront infrastructure costs, including additional equipment, fiber optic drops and wireless routers.

HCS EdConnect partners include Hamilton County, City of Chattanooga, Hamilton County Schools, The Enterprise Center, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, Benwood Foundation, Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, Footprint Foundation, Lyndhurst Foundation, Maclellan Foundation and CARES funding from the State of Tennessee.

Source: EPB