Collaboration to build learning labs in underserved communities.

A new collaboration between Benedict College, the University of South Carolina system and Apple will build a network of learning labs to support students and communities throughout the state disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster on Tuesday approved the use of $6 million from the Governor's Emergency Education Relief fund, part of the 2020 Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, to provide technological resources to underserved communities. The network will include hubs at Benedict and in the BullStreet District, along with satellite labs at six of the University of South Carolina's Palmetto College campuses.

The labs will provide internet access and educational programming and supplement steps taken by the Office of Regulatory Staff, which used CARES Act funding to expand broadband technology to more than 100 S.C. schools and 200 communities, according to a news release.

"The pandemic has made it abundantly clear that internet access is not a luxury but a necessity for millions of South Carolinians," McMaster said in the release. "The strategic placement of these labswill bolster South Carolina's premier workforce training efforts by giving our communities and people access to resources they need to expand participation in our state's growing economy."

The labs will feature Apple products and access to curricula including coding, app development and content creation. Each site will be available to faculty, staff, students and community members...

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