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First on 2: Buffalo Bills donate $500K to close the broadband gap for Buffalo school students

The project was initially going to provide internet access to 4,500 families, but it has been scaled back since the announcement.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Everybody loves an announcement. You get those positive feelings in your gut after you announce something for the greater good. 

Implementing that announcement is often the hard part.

Five weeks ago during a Zoom call with Mayor Byron Brown, Buffalo Schools Superintendent Kriner Cash, and members of the Bills, it was announced that the team's foundation would be donating the resources to provide over 4,500 Buffalo school families with internet access for the upcoming school year. 

Five weeks later, how’s that going? 

2 On Your Side is able to confirm that the program hasn’t been fully implemented yet, but progress is being made.

"It's at the 5-yard line," Buffalo Public Schools Chief Technology Officer Myra Burden said. "We're close to taking this into the end zone with the Spectrum deal.”

The scale of the project has also been reduced a bit. According to the Burden, the district has already been able to secure hotspots to families of students since the school year started. 

"So far, we have handed out 2,896 hotspots," Burden said. "The hot spots are something that the district is sponsoring directly."

According to Burden, that leaves about 2,900 that still need internet access. This is where the scope of the project has changed. Initially, the Bills were donating to fund the entire 4,500.

Presumably, due to the delays that stemmed from due diligence performed by the Foundation and Spectrum, the district stepped in to distribute hot spots. 

Getting the 2,900 connected remains a priority for the district. 

"That is our focus in terms of those households that are serviceable and eligible at this juncture," Burden said. "We will be communicating with those households that are on that list."

According to a representative from the Buffalo Bills Foundation, the players and staff of the Bills have been collecting the money each week for this project. 

2 On Your Side learned Friday that $500,000 has been donated for this project. 

"We have done everything that we needed to do to get everything solidified with the Bills. and that donation at this point is tight and ready to go," Burden said. 

But it’s not just the money that was needed for this project.

"There's a lot of due diligence that's required for a magnitude donation of $500,000," Burden said, "as well as making sure that the agreement is accurate and reflective of what we've discussed."

According to the district, it was this due diligence from Spectrum that took the longest amount of time during the last five weeks. 

"We're just waiting on Spectrum to update the agreement with what has been verbally discussed."

Burden said Spectrum is charging the district $24,99 per month for each home that is connected through this program. The internet service will remain available through the duration of the school year. 

The next step in this project is getting approval from the school board on October 21. The board needs to approve the acceptance of the $500,000 from the Bills, then the district can authorize Spectrum to begin shipping modems and routers to families who need internet service. 

"They should be able to ship the very next day after the board meeting," Burden said. "We are working right now, to reach out to those households, to let them know that they've been identified as being eligible for this program

Burden says she expects those families that still need access will finally be connected by the end of the month or early November. 

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