Houston Golf Association’s the First Tee of Greater Houston is teaming up with AT&T to improve the digital access and literacy of Houston youth with the launch of the city’s first AT&T Connected Learning Center located at FM Law Park.

The center officially opened on Dec. 11. Local youth will have access to high-speed AT&T Fiber internet and WiFi, new 15 new Dell computers, engaging education and digital literacy resources provided by the Public Library Association, Khan Academy and assistance from AT&T Houston-based employees.

It’s part of AT&T’s $2 billion commitment to bridge the digital divide through low-cost broadband service across the United States. 

“Our location is strategically placed. “It’s in the heart of the inner city and that is the demographic we are trying to reach,” said Brian Ladet, executive director of First Tee of Greater Houston.  “Especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, we have the opportunity here at our facility. This is a safe environment [for youth] to do their homework, use the internet and touch base with different tutoring sessions for various topics.”

According to Rice University Houston Education Research Consortium’s Gulf Coast Coronavirus Community Impact Survey, during the first six months of the pandemic, COVID-19 fundamentally altered education and schooling in the Houston area with one in five students lacking internet access and digital devices for online learning. Additionally, Black and Hispanic students were more likely than white students to be without such resources. 

“This is a clear opportunity to close the digital divide for K-12 and college level students who need access,” said Stacy Canady, AT&T assistant vice president Texas. “The First Tee serves kids across various school districts and economic levels across Houston. It was a great opportunity to be able to get that level of diversity of kids to be able to participate in the program.”

Canady said it is first of three additional learning centers that have been committed for the greater Houston area.  

Laura Onyeneho covers the city’s education system as it relates to Black children for the Defender Network as a Report For America Corps member. Email her at laura@defendernetwork.com