Students who meet the criteria can get a free tablet through a federal program designed to help close the digital divide.

Thousands of students from Pre-K through college are about to get a free computer tablet and you or your child could be one of them.

The latest in a series of give away events will be at Century II on Nov. 19 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. where 5,000 students who pre-registered will receive their 10-inch tablets and will be eligible for one year’s free Internet service from Moolah Wireless, a national internet service provider, based in Atlanta.

A donation from NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal has made it possible for Storytime Village, a local literacy program for children from birth to age 8, to coordinate the distribution of the tablets.

To be eligible to receive a free tablet, students must qualify for free or reduced lunch, or have a household member that is eligible for Medicaid/Medicare, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance, Social Security income, Veterans’ Pension or Survivors Pension, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Section 8 or a Pell Grant.

Registration open at event

Students who meet the qualifying criteria but who have not pre-registered can bring their qualifying documents with them to the Nov. 19 event and their tablet will be mailed to them.  Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission selected Moolah Wireless, a mobile virtual network operator, as one of its partners in implementing the $14.2 billion Affordable Connectivity Program with the goal of closing the digital divide gap for poor and underserved communities throughout the nation.  The ACP is part of President Biden’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act created at the end of 2021. 

A natural fit

The program is a natural fit for Storytime Village, which was founded in 2009 by Wichita native Prisca Barnes. Storytime Village’s mission is to promote a lifelong love of reading in children from birth to age 8.

Through a number of partnerships with WSU and other organizations, Storytime Village has been able to expand its program offerings, including an annual Kansas Literacy Festival which includes an event called Hoops for Literacy.

At this year’s Kansas Literacy Festival, held from  Sept. 8-10, O’Neal was a celebrity guest for the annual Wichita Police Department vs Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office basketball game, which also features local community leaders and celebrity guests.

O’Neill challenged Deputy Vince Folston to dunk the basketball during that game, and pledged to provide funding for 1,000 laptop computers for underserved children if he could successfully pull off a dunk. In the second half of the game, Folston dunked it. 

Leveraging the donation

When O’Neal learned of the federal program and the Moolah Wireless effort to give not only tablets but a year of free internet service, he decided to make his donation in support of that effort.

His support enabled Storytime Village to handle the organization for the giveaway event at Century II.

Moolah Wireless is partnering with nonprofits, including Storytime Village, and staging tablet give away events at venues such as colleges, churches, and high schools across the nation.

At each stop, the company enrolls eligible customers in this new federally funded program , with eligible customers receiving a brand-new Moolah Mobile Android 12 Wireless Tablet with 12 months of free internet service provided by Moolah Wireless. 

The Moolah Mobile devices come pre-installed with custom software, where users can elect to earn up to $50 per month for viewing advertising on their home screen.

This fall, Moolah Wireless will give away tens of thousands of tablets and provide internet service to students of all ages who are in need.

“Our company’s core mission is to provide underserved communities with high-quality broadband,” said Moolah Wireless Founder and CEO Vernell Woods.  “We are proud to join forces with the federal government in closing the digital divide.”

Moolah Wireless is an internet service provider based in Atlanta and a member of the Federal Communications Commission “Affordable Connectivity Program” which provides funding for computer devices and internet service for underserved communities.