CNS contribution helps students connect in Hamblen County

  • Posted: Thursday, May 27, 2021, 9:31 am

As the world grappled with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, CNS continued looking for ways to help our communities. The company turned to the East Tennessee Foundation and its Neighbor to Neighbor Fund. Leveraging dollars from the CNS Community Investment Fund, CNS was able to quickly get much needed resources to nonprofit organizations in East Tennessee through ETF.

Hamblen County Connectivity Project

CNS contribution helps students connect in Hamblen County.

Essential needs like food, shelter, and healthcare come to mind when talking about the resource challenges during any crisis. During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Hamblen County added internet access to that list. The disruptions to in-person learning placed many school-aged children of low-income families in a precarious position. While the school system purchased 2,500 computers to assist these children, the computers weren’t much good without high-speed internet for online learning.

With a $5,000 grant from CNS, the Hamblen County Foundation for Excellence and Achievement, or HC EXCELL, through its Hamblen County Connectivity Project, identified 15 low-income families with school-aged children and provided them with high-speed internet access. Stan Harville, executive director of HC EXCELL, said they looked for families with more than one child in the home who also had older and/or high risk family members. On average, the families received $60 a month, allowing those children the option to attend school through virtual learning.

“We heard several stories about families being scared to send their children to school for fear they would bring the virus back into the home and threaten the lives of the older members or medically fragile members of the family,” Harville said.

Harville said access to high-speed internet allowed those families to keep their children at home and avoid being exposed to others. “By being able to shelter in place, these children were able to continue their learning and keep their families safe from the virus,” he said. “There is a gap in Hamblen County regarding online learning. Some families can’t afford the cost of internet. Grants like those from CNS kept that gap from widening in 2020,” Harville added.