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Toyota, Cisco bring free Wi-Fi to more than 50 public sites across Southeast Michigan

Community Wi-Fi installed locally at sites in Ann Arbor, Ypsilanti

Grants from Toyota and Cisco will help local community sites extend their Wi-Fi networks for residents to access.
Grants from Toyota and Cisco will help local community sites extend their Wi-Fi networks for residents to access. (Toyota)

ANN ARBOR – Residents across Washtenaw County, Detroit, Inkster and Flint will soon be able access free Wi-Fi at more than 50 community sites.

Toyota USA Foundation and Cisco contributed to the project that is part of Merit Network’s Michigan Moonshot initiative. Washtenaw Intermediate School District and Merit Network also made in-kind contributions for the effort.

According to U.S. Census Bureau data, the highest number of households in Michigan without internet access -- 82,894 in total -- are in the Detroit Public Schools District. The Flint School District is the district with the second highest number of households without internet access at 14,221. Additionally, more than half of K-12 students in Washtenaw County are without high-speed Wi-Fi access in their homes.

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“For thousands of students across the state of Michigan, the pandemic has introduced new challenges or highlighted existing ones,” Charlotte Bewersdorff, Merit Network’s vice president for community engagement said in a statement. “We expect this to help both rural and urban communities access the internet for basic informational needs tied to living, learning and working.”

The grants from Toyota and Cisco address the digital divide by helping community organizations extend their Wi-Fi networks beyond the walls of their buildings. During normal business hours, Detroit Public Library will extend their Wi-Fi network at nine select sites. Washtenaw Intermediate School District will be activating 30 access points at area schools to help the community to connect to the internet.

“As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout our nation, Toyota is proud to partner with Michigan Moonshot and Cisco to expand free Wi-Fi to Southeast Michigan area schools, libraries and community gathering locations to provide an immediate solution to this urgent issue of access,” Chris Reynolds, chief administrative officer at Ann Arbor-based Toyota Motor North America said in a statement.

Beyond Southeast Michigan, Toyota USA Foundation has provided grants to 13 states across the country to address the digital divide.

Cisco’s next-generation Wi-Fi and cloud security technology will be powering internet access at the community sites.

“It is our responsibility as business leaders to step up and mobilize the tools and innovations at our disposal to help curtail the growing disparities in our communities caused by the digital divide,” Nick Michaelides, senior vice president, U.S. Public Sector at Cisco said in a statement. “We are proud to launch this initiative alongside Merit and Toyota to help ensure equity of access, and to power an inclusive future for all Michiganders.”

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Detroit Public Library Sites

  • Detroit Public Library Campbell
  • Detroit Public Library Edison
  • Detroit Public Library Jefferson
  • Detroit Public Library Parkman
  • Detroit Public Library Redford
  • Detroit Public Library Wilder
  • Detroit Public Library Bowen
  • Detroit Public Library Chase
  • Detroit Public Library Sherwood Forest

Inkster & Westland Sites

  • American International Academy Upper Elementary (Charter)
  • American International Academy Middle School/ High School (Charter)
  • American International Academy Lower Elementary (Charter)

Saline Site

  • Saline District Library

City of Detroit Sites

  • Adams Butzel Complex
  • Butzel Family Center
  • Clemente Center
  • Coleman A. Young Community Center
  • Farwell Recreation Center
  • Kemeny Recreation Center

Flint Site

  • Factory Two 

Washtenaw County Sites

  • Ann Arbor: Carpenter Elementary, Slauson Middle School, Mitchell Elementary
  • Chelsea: Chelsea High School, Chelsea EC Center, Beacon Elementary, Creekside Intermediate
  • Dexter: Dexter High School
  • Ypsilanti: Brick Elementary, Lincoln Middle School, Lincoln High School, Riverside Intermediate, Washtenaw International High School, High Point East, TLC, YCS Middle School, YCS High School, Holmes Elementary
  • Milan: Milan High School, Harvest Elementary, Pleasant Ridge Elementary, Liberty School, WL High School, Wl Elementary School, WL Middle School

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