Breaking News
More () »

Closing the digital gap through hotspots

"We close the gaps in terms of accessibility of technology, by starting at home," said Nancy Mwirotsi, executive director of Pi515.

DES MOINES, Iowa — Closing the digital literacy gap and increasing internet access for low-income Iowans is one metro woman's goal.

Nancy Mwirotsi, the executive director for Pi515, said the way she wants to help close that gap is by providing free mobile hotspots. 

"We close the gaps in terms of accessibility of technology, by starting at home," Mwirotsi said.

The idea for providing the hotspots came to her during the pandemic

Mwirotsi noticed some children having a hard time getting access to the internet at home because parents couldn't afford to pay for it.  

To solve that problem, Mwirotsi partnered with some companies like AT&T, Google Fiber and Grand View University to give families in need with children a hotspot.

The hotspot will be free for a year, and if someone gets a hotspot, they will also be taught about digital literacy. 

Mwirotwsi said it teaches kids and their families about looking out for internet scams, bullying, plus how to use the internet and hotspot correctly.

One person who received a hotspot was Comfort Sailee, who has two children in school. She lost her job during the pandemic, and was not one of the families able to receive a hotspot from Des Moines Public Schools.

RELATED: 'We're getting a lot of return requests': Increased need for pet adoptions as owners go back to the office

RELATED: Teen web developer creates cutting-edge Bitcoin forecasting website

RELATED: Dear Future Pi515 Part 2

She also noted she was not always able to pay for internet. 

"It was very expensive, [and] I [only had] wifi at home sometimes," Sailee said. "I'm able to pay it, and sometimes I can't pay it. Sometimes they can't do their school work."

Sailee is glad to have received a hotspot recently, because it means for a year she will have internet consistently. 

Mwirtosi said there are hotspots left to give. To receive one, email tech@pi515.org

She added if someone wants to donate money to help people buy hotspots for others, you can also send an email to the organization.

WATCH: West Des Moines' high-speed internet expansion project running on schedule 

Before You Leave, Check This Out