ConnectED Program Offers Schools Almost $2B in Products, Services

Katrina Stevens Katrina Stevens

ATLANTA, GA--Close to $2 billion dollars in private company resources will flow into US schools through the ConnectED Initiative over the next three to four years. Ten companies shared the specifics around what they were offering (see list below) at the showcase event on Saturday, June 28, 2014, organized by the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA). Strategically placed during the overlap between the SETDA Emerging Technologies Forum, and the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) annual conference, participants from both conferences could attend to discover what company resources were available to them and how they could be accessed.

Representatives from the US Virgin Islands and from Guam applauded when they heard that the company resources shared were also available to all US territories. (The one exception is Sprint because they do not have a presence in these regions.)

“We couldn’t have been more thrilled,” shared Doug Levin, SETDA's executive director, “when the ConnectED initiative was announced by President Obama in June 2013. This is the work our states are doing every day.”

President Obama's ConnectED initiative calls for

  • Increased broadband and high-speed wireless access in classrooms;
  • Access to learning devices;
  • Training and support for educators;  
  • High quality digital learning resources.

“This was not something that the government could get done alone,” says Richard Culatta, director of the Office of Educational Technology. “We need non-profit and for-profit partners to make this happen." Culatta further commented that he was “proud to be an American in a country where private companies will step up like those on this stage.” Culatta also stressed that the ConnectED initiative was of personal interest to President Obama: “The President cares deeply and is personally invested in connecting schools. He sometimes even asks for daily updates on the status of this initiative.” 

We've rounded up the participating companies with details about their donated services, programs, and links to applications. Click on the company name to see a press release or link on the company site relevant to this program.

You can also see the full ConnectED press conference at SETDA here.  




All major Autodesk Software: Professional-caliber 3D design software; secondary schools also get curricula modules, eTraining & Certification.

Who's eligible? All accredited secondary and post-secondary schools. There are up to 2,000 seats in increments of 125 seats available.

When will the material be available? Now!

How do schools apply? Schools should apply here; curricula modules, eTraining and certifications are also available to secondary schools here. Schools should receive an email in about 1 day about their software request.


Commitment: An ArcGIS Online Organization subscription (each subscription is valued at $10K).

Who's eligible? All U.S. K-12 schools, both public and private.

When will the material be available? Applications opened May 27, 2014. Properly filled out applications will be granted "in a couple of business days."

How do schools apply? Here's more detailed information (including ConnectED information, resource links, and form link), or hop straight to the application.



Adobe is making $300 million worth of software and professional services available. These include: 

Who's eligible? US public school teachers and schools that qualify for Title 1 programs and that have the necessary infrastructure to support the software. (Applicants must also join the Adobe Education Exchange.) Look here for details. Teachers apply on behalf of their institution.

When will the material be available? Now. Here are the details. Applicants will learn whether they have been approved 3-4 weeks after submitting a full application.

How do schools apply? Begin the process on the Adobe Education Exchange



Four-year Prezi EDU Pro licenses (each worth about $240), together worth about $100 million.

Who's eligible? Any Title 1 high school or Title 1 K-12 educators

When will the material be available? Beginning in Sept. 2014

What's involved? Apply here! Applicants should hear back about their status in about 30 days 

How do schools apply? Step right up and apply here! The website went live in August.

O'Reilly Safari Books Online


Technology books and publications

Who's eligible? "Every school in America" (by next year)

When will the material be available? Today! Safari is now opening an "early access" registration for 500 high school students. Every student will have a summer of on-demand online access to all 2,000 O'Reilly Media ebooks and videos currently available in the Safari Premium Library. In September, the program will be opened up for all high school students; in January 2015, any U.S. K-12 student or teacher can apply.

How do students apply? Hop on over here to be one of the lucky 500. By January, educators will be able to apply at http://safaribooksonline.com/connected.

Hardware / Software Combos



With its computer hardware partners Acer, ASUS, Dell, Fujitsu, HP, Lenova, Toshiba and Panasonic, Microsoft is working with "a variety of laptops and tablets at various price points and sizes" to provide the Windows 8.1 Pro software for free (possibly bringing the price down to $300 apiece). Microsoft already offers Office 365 Education for free; it will up the ante by letting schools that license Office 365 Pro for staff let students use for free. Other offerings include search engine Bing without ads, professional and student development resources and (for low-income students) low-cost home Internet access.

Who's eligible? All US K-12 schools. Public schools must get a Letter of Eligibility (LOE), which they can get from a local Microsoft reseller. It will have to be renewed each year.

When will the material be available? Now. Miami-Dade, Houston, Baltimore County and the state of West Virginia are apparently already snapping up materials.

How do schools apply? Start on the Microsoft site here, but don't forget to first get that LOE. You are supposed to be able to find out more through a live chat in addition to calling a sales rep.



Apple has pledged $100 million in iPads, MacBooks, software, PD, and expertise to help transform classrooms in some of the nation's most underprivileged communities.

Who's eligible? Apple is inviting economically disadvantaged schools where 96 percent or more students are eligible for free or reduced-price lunches to apply for a ConnectED grant. Invited schools will have until June 20 to let Apple know if they intend to apply. Final applications are due July 25. 

How do schools apply? Apple is issuing the invitations.

Telecom Services



Sprint has pledged to provide free wireless internet access services up to 3 GB per month on the Sprint network per student. Although Sprint will not provide free devices, the company will help schools identify equipment compatible with Sprint's network as well as the option to purchase Sprint devices. A minimum of 250 lines and devices will be approved. In total, Sprint expects to provide high-speed wireless broadband service for 50,000 students starting in August and continuing over the next four years.  

Who's eligible? Sprint is reaching out directly to some schools and districts. Those that do not get an invitation can also apply. They should confirm with Sprint that they are in a "participating market" by emailing ConnectED@sprint.com and including the name, address and zip code the relevant school. Here are more details. 

When will the material be available? August 2014. 

How do schools apply? Here's Sprint's portal for applying for the services. Districts can fill out this survey and formIndividual schools can fill out this form. Sprint says it will send responses to these grant applications within 90 days.  


AT&T has committed to provide $100 million worth of services to 50,000 middle and high school students in Title I districts. They will get free Internet connectivity for their devices for three years. Specifically, the offer includes: 4G mobile broadband data services to education websites; mobile device management and security software; integration and training support for schools and educators. Here's AT&T's description of the program.

Who's eligible? Middle and high school students or schools in Title I districts (where at least 50% of students are eligible for school lunch.) AT&T expects that between 2,000 and 4,000 students per district will receive access and is encouraging applications that target that number. (Multiple schools in a district can apply together, as can individual states.) 

How do schools apply?  Nonprofit Connected Nation is administrating the application process for AT&T. Schools or districts should apply. The first deadline for applications is July 15; there will be application deadlines in the autumn and spring 2015 as well. Here's the application page



Verizon is investing up to $100 million in cash and in-kind services over the next three years to reach more than 1,000 US schools. The program, Verizon Mobile Learning Academy, is being developed in partnership with ISTE and the Johns Hopkins University's Center for Technology in Education. It is a virtual, moderated professional development course for educators. 

Who's eligible? Teachers can register for the program, which opens in the fall 2014. 

How do schools apply? Here's a form to register for more information about the program. 

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