Dallas-based Santander Consumer USA is helping to bridge the digital divide in Dallas with a $7 million investment from its Santander Consumer Foundation.
The investment—announced Monday to coincide with the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday—is the first step in a two-year program to include several other cities, funded by a total of $35 million in grants from Dallas-based Santander Consumer’s foundation.
Partnering with Comp-U-Dopt
In Dallas, Santander Consumer will partner with tech and community nonprofit Comp-U-Dopt to target student households below 200 percent of the federal poverty level in the southern sector of the city. They will provide free high-speed Internet connectivity to up to 10,000 Dallas student households, along with free laptop computers, training, and support to eligible low-income residents who enroll in a lottery for the program.
“Today it is difficult, if not impossible, to find a job, complete schoolwork and connect with vital services without a computer or reliable Internet,” Santander Consumer USA CEO Mahesh Aditya said in a statement. “Our program with Comp-U-Dopt looks to level the playing field, providing families and students with critical computer and digital resources to help them prosper and thrive.”
Aditya believes the digital divide is a “solvable problem.”
“It’s critical that we continue to invest in initiatives that provide students and families the tools they need to access additional resources,” he said.
Confronting gaps in high-speed internet access
According to a June 2021 Pew Research Institute study, more than 40% of lower-income households lack reliable high-speed internet or a personal computer. Santander Consumer believes initiatives like theirs are critical in order to sustainably provide equal access to distance learning, telehealth, online bill paying, job applications, and more.
The Santander Consumer Foundation awarded the $35 million grant to national non-profit Comp-U-Dopt “based on their inclusive mission and successful track record in underserved communities.”
Dallas mayor applauds move
“As we build for our city’s future, we must work with our private and nonprofit partners to connect our neighborhoods with reliable high-speed Internet,” Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson said in the statement. “By expanding Internet service in our historically underserved communities, we can improve educational outcomes, enhance workforce readiness, and increase access to critical services.”
“We’re grateful to Santander Consumer for recognizing the importance of this issue and for helping to make Dallas an even better place to live and work,” he added.
Helping Dallas Innovation Alliance’s DIA Mobile Learning Lab
Jennifer Sanders, executive director of the Dallas Innovation Alliance, noted that Santander Consumer has helped to close Dallas’ digital divide for years.
“Since 2018 they have invested in digital access, which has provided critical support to the DIA Mobile Learning Lab,” Sanders said. “Through this program alone, we’ve reached thousands of students and members of the community in our city’s least connected neighborhoods because of Santander’s forward-thinking investment in our mission to create innovative solutions to complex challenges.”
Mita Havlick, executive director of the Dallas Education Foundation, the non-profit philanthropic partner of the Dallas Independent School District, lauded Santander’s work with the district as well.
“Santander Consumer has been a key supporter in our virtual classroom initiative since the start of the pandemic,” Havlick said. “This program with Comp-U-Dopt complements the work that we are doing and will be transformational for thousands of students and families.
For more information about the Dallas Comp-U-Dopt program, go here.
Get on the list.
Dallas Innovates, every day.
Sign up to keep your eye on what’s new and next in Dallas-Fort Worth, every day.