Ken Griffin leads Miami internet access effort

As many as 100,000 Miami-Dade households will soon be getting free high-speed internet thanks to a $30 million effort led by hedge fund billionaire Ken Griffin.

In a partnership led by County Mayor Daniella Levine Cava, Miami Mayor Francis Suarez and Miami-Dade Schools Superintendent Alberto Carvalho, organizers with the Miami Foundation and Achieve Miami announced Monday the launch of Miami Connected. W

Working with wireless provider Comcast, the initiative will kick off by connecting households in Overtown, Little Haiti, Liberty City and Homestead, and continue over the next two years throughout the county on a school-by-school basis to serve all underserved communities where home internet access is limited or nonexistent.

Griffin, who was born in Boca Raton and lives in Miami Beach, has pledged $5 million along with other unspecified commitments from the city of Miami, the Children’s Trust, philanthropist and Achieve Miami Founder Leslie Miller Saiontz, tech group eMerge Americas, TD Bank, and the Miami Heat.

Tools and devices has agreed to provide free access to its digital literacy tools. The effort also includes $5 million in CARES funding that has already been used to purchase devices.

“Connectivity is a lifeline to opportunity — it improves outcomes and gives students and their families critical resources they need to succeed,” Griffin, who led a similar effort in Chicago last year, said in a statement. “It is inspiring to see the Miami community come together to address this important issue, and I look forward to continued progress in bridging the digital divide.”

According to estimates, more than one in five Miami-Dade households — 150,000 — lack internet access, and Miami is the second least-connected large city in the United States.

“Amid covid, one of biggest barriers was access to internet,” said Miami Foundation President and CEO Rebecca Fishman Lipsey in an interview.

“With no Internet, you couldn’t attend school, couldn’t access [unemployment] benefits or COVID testing or vaccine information. Everything, like weddings and funerals and just basic communication, went online, and without it you were cut off from society. We determined, if we care about equity, we need to make sure everyone has access to the Internet.”

To apply

Interested families can apply at The sign-up agreement lasts two years.

Rob Wile covers business, tech, and the economy in South Florida. He is a graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism and Columbia University. He grew up in Chicago.


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