The importance of having a solid internet connection at home has recently reached new levels, while access to quality internet continues to be an issue for Garfield County residents. In fact, one in five homes in the county still do not have high-speed internet access. And, of those homes with internet access, sixty percent have inadequate access making it difficult or impossible to work from home, apply for a job, apply for CARES Act small-business assistance, or keep children engaged in online learning.
Leaders from Garfield County Libraries and Colorado Mountain College recognized this need and approached the Board of County Commissioners for seed money to begin a wireless hotspot lending program. The BOCC awarded the program $2,500 as part of their discretionary grant funding. Both CMC and the libraries added funding of their own to the project to purchase hotspots and the service to run each one.
“Now, more than ever, lack of high speed internet can be an insurmountable barrier to attending and completing college,” said CMC Rifle Campus Dean, Tinker Duclo. “CMC is very pleased to partner with Garfield County Libraries and Garfield County to provide this vital service and technological pathway to education, training and opportunity.”
The new initiative titled “Wifi to Go!” will be available for both CMC students and members of the Garfield County Libraries. Ten CMC hotspots will be available for their students to checkout and use for a semester. Garfield County Libraries will have sixty hotspots that can be checked out for free for three weeks to anyone with a library card.
“The COVID 19 pandemic forced many to work from home or to look for unemployment from home. Many summer camps were cancelled, sending parents scrambling for ways in which to keep their children engaged in learning from home. Meanwhile, a significant portion of our residents do not have a reliable home internet connection,” said Garfield County Libraries Executive Director Brett Lear. “I’m proud that Garfield County Libraries and Colorado Mountain College are able to help keep people connected to work, family, and learning during this unprecedented time.”
Those interested in borrowing a hotspot from the Garfield County Libraries can visit any of the six locations or place a hold on the next available hotspot (called a Verizon Ellipsis Jetpack) here. CMC students can call 970-625-6900 for more information on their available hotspots.