Gov. Stitt, City of Tulsa roll out plan to get internet access to families

TULSA, Okla. — Gov. Kevin Stitt, Mayor G.T. Bynum and officials from Tulsa Public Schools and Impact Tulsa announced an internet access plan Thursday for Tulsa residents and upcoming programming for Tulsans impacted by COVID-19.

Stitt presented Bynum with a check for more than $30 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund at a news conference in Tulsa.

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“I am excited to present the City of Tulsa with over $30 million from the Coronavirus Relief Fund,” Stitt says.

“Mayor Bynum and his team at the City of Tulsa have done a great job coming up with innovative ways to use this money to continue to fight COVID-19, support local businesses and help educate our children.”

The City of Tulsa says they will roll out programming in the coming months in five major areas, including the following:

  • Addressing unbudgeted costs incurred due to the public health emergency
  • Making safety modifications to community facilities
  • Supporting vulnerable Tulsans
  • Providing job training, facilitating remote work, and supporting entrepreneurial ventures for COVID-19 displaced workers
  • Increasing access to capital and helping small businesses establish an online presence

The city is planning to work with nearby school districts in Tulsa and Jenks to launch an “Internet Access Taskforce” that will be meant to identify needs for internet access in the area.

According to the City of Tulsa:

  • 15% of Tulsa County families have no Internet access at home through any means.
  • 1 in 3 Tulsa households do not have “wireline” broadband needed for virtual meetings or online learning.
  • It’s estimated nearly 57,000 households in the city of Tulsa and 20,000 Tulsa students do not have fast, reliable internet at home.

The city says it will use $5.6 million in state allocated funds to provide internet access to Tulsa families.

“We have been working with our school districts and community stakeholders since April of this year to identify solutions for Tulsa families and students as our community navigates one of the worst pandemics of our lifetime,” Bynum said.

“Through the use of CARES dollars, we will be providing better opportunity and internet access for more than 22,000 Tulsa families, providing a clear path for our children to receive the help they need with their education during this critical time in our city.

The Internet Access funding is expected to be focused in three areas:

  • $2.7 million will provide high-speed, reliable Wi-Fi to all Tulsa Housing Authority complexes – impacting nearly 2,500 families and more than 8,000 Tulsans. In partnership with Cox Communications, this program will provide free Internet for the next three years.
  • $2.4 million will provide high-speed internet coverage for up to 20,000 public school families that currently lack an internet subscription. This funding will provide free Internet to families for the next year.
  • $500,000 will fund internet access navigators through Tulsa Responds and Tulsa’s powerful network of non-profit organizations, ensuring families know about the subscription opportunities while providing a group of individuals that will help navigate technological challenges for students and families.