by Doug Michelman
President, 1Million Project

See how the 1Million Project is Helping this High School Student in Miami

March 06, 2018

This time of year, high school seniors across the country are already anticipating graduation, applying to colleges and planning for what lies ahead next year. It’s a typical rite of passage. But how many high school sophomores do you know that have their future mapped out, are already taking college courses, tutoring their peers, participating in multiple business clubs at school, and working a part-time job to prepare for their post-college career?

Meet Sadre Campbell, a 15 year old student at William H. Turner Technical Arts School in Miami, Florida. Sadre has excelled both in and out of school. What’s more, even in this hyper-connected day and age, he was doing it without reliable access to the internet at home. He represents one of the 5 million families across the country with school-aged kids who do not have connectivity in their household.

Sadre Campbell, a student at William H. Turner Technical Arts School in Miami, Florida, participates in five business clubs.

“The internet is the only way I do my homework now,” said Sadre. “Even when I have math homework, the internet is always there to help or check my answers. It’s how I communicate with teachers and other students to prepare for events too.”

During the 2017-2018 school year, students in over 1,300 high schools across 30 states will benefit from the 1Million Project – Sprint’s initiative to give free devices and free internet service to one million high school students across the country who currently do not have connectivity at home. Miami-Dade County Public Schools, where Sadre is enrolled, is one of 120 school districts in the program in its first full year.

After he graduates from high school in a couple of years, Sadre wants to attend Dartmouth or Princeton to get his degree in Business, and he knows it takes hard work to get there. So, on top of his daily schoolwork which includes courses for college credit, he tutors classmates in math courses, holds down a part-time job doing accounting and billing work at a therapist’s office, is in five business-focused clubs, and participates in a mentorship program through his school.

“I want to take advantage of all of the free programs my school offers because I know these opportunities won’t always be around,” he says. “I’m okay with the cards I’ve been dealt in life, but I’d like to improve and I see education as the best way for me to get there.”

By any standard, Sadre has a lot on his plate. After school, club time and work, he used to have to go to the library or find a fast-food restaurant to get a Wi-Fi connection to do his homework. One Saturday last year, he and a friend tried to get into school to get online and do math homework. Their diligence to get their work done, however, caused the building’s alarm to go off and brought the principal to campus. The trio sat down together until the assignment was finished.

Sadre says, "I will not let anything stop me from doing my homework, even if I have to stay up to 3am to get it done. I’d be tired in school but it’s worth the grade and the sense of accomplishment I feel.”

But, it shouldn’t have to be so hard.

Things have changed this schoolyear for Sadre. With the internet connection he has through his 1Million Project smartphone, he can do his homework at home, in a safe place and pursue his Ivy League dreams. Not only that, but as the oldest of six kids in his family, Sadre can help watch his little brothers and sisters and make sure they do their homework at night too.

“Every student deserves a chance to excel in school, and we can’t do that without the internet,” Sadre said. “My parents and I saw the 1Million Project as a great opportunity, and we are so happy with what I received.”

Not every student in America has an equal opportunity to grow and thrive. Some, like Sadre, find a way to overcome the challenges that stand between them and success, but many students fall behind simply because they don’t have reliable internet access at home. This isn’t fair and it isn’t right. We are halfway through the first year of the 1Million Project, and we need everyone’s support to continue to level the playing field for high school students across the country and to help close the homework gap.