By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Jun 03, 2020 at 10:30 AM

The digital divide in Milwaukee has been highlighted by the pandemic school closures that have forced most communication and interaction between teachers and students online.

Wednesday morning, the Milwaukee Public Schools Foundation announced a new initiative to help bridge that gap.

#ConnectMilwaukee will raise $1 million to provide internet for continuous remote learning to families that need it.

"Internet connectivity for our students has been inequitable and unequal. While a large number of us have transitioned to working from home or helping our family members navigate online learning, many parents and families cannot make this shift as easily," said Wendell Willis, Executive Director, MPS Foundation.

"For those of you sitting at home wondering how you can help, this is the moment. This is your opportunity to directly serve the underserved. Internet access and bridging the digital divide is vital for everyone’s routine daily tasks and we are committed to helping our students have the access they deserve."

Phase 1 of the new campaign will match the money already allocated by the Milwaukee Public Schools District, which will allow the district to make a large-volume purchase that will help earn discounts to fund the program.

The first phase aims to get MPS’ more than 5,000 homeless students, and others, connected. In the second phase, the foundation and the district will work together to identify online learning needs across MPS, including teacher tech ed, tech enablement grants and community usage support.

The foundation says that the MPS funding and the Foundation’s money will be combined to create a $2 million pot that is expected to buy secure mobile internet connectivity for more than 5,000 students for more than a year.

You can learn more about #ConnectMilwaukee and make donations at mpsfdn.com.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.