ROCKLAND — To help provide reliable and safe internet access and opportunities and keep local families connected, UScellular has donated 25 wireless hotspots and two years of service to New Hope Midcoast (formerly New Hope for Women) as part of its After School Access Project. Currently, more than 40 million people in the United States lack reliable access to high-speed internet.

“The success and safety of families in the communities we serve is very important to us at UScellular,” said Tabatha McKay, area vice president/general manager for UScellular in New England, “Connecting people and communities is our mission and the After School Access Project is just one way that we’re helping ensure that families have the reliable access they need to grow and pursue their dreams.”

Through the After School Access Project, the company has pledged to donate up to $13 million in hotspots and service to help up to 50,000 youth connect to reliable internet in its markets.

To date, the company has donated more than 9,300 hotspots, a value of $10.5 million, to its communities through this initiative. Eligible 501c3 nonprofit organizations are encouraged to apply by going to AfterSchoolAccessProject.com.

New Hope Midcoast provides residential services in the form of transitional housing and rapid re-housing for up to 17 different families at any given time. Families will often receive services in the residential program for 6-24 months, with most of these families having school-aged children. “Since Maine is so rural, having reliable internet is difficult for many families to get in their homes,” said Rebekah Paredes, executive director for New Hope Midcoast. “The families in our program are usually living below the federal poverty level and are either on a fixed income or have little to no income. Providing these hotspots in their home would allow their children to have access to the internet where they otherwise would not. It would also allow the parents in our program to access the internet which is often used to access supports for themselves and their children.”

Hotspots are stand-alone Wi-Fi networks that can connect several devices at once wirelessly and have proven to be a vital tool for families and youth to access the internet, study, and complete homework.

“These hotspots will help us address the isolation and control abusers can have over survivors and their children,” adds Paredes. “We intend to lend the hotspots to survivors to provide them with reliable, safe, and private access to the internet, so they can move forward in reestablishing their lives.”

Since 2009, UScellular has donated nearly $21.4 million to nonprofit organizations across the country. For more information about the company’s corporate social responsibility initiatives, please go to newsroom.uscellular.com/community/.