FirstEnergy Foundation Donation Helps Akron Organizations Provide Free Internet Access to Local Families

hotspot internet

Now more than ever, access to the internet is crucial. The coronavirus pandemic has illustrated the importance of digital inclusivity after shutdowns forced people of all ages across the country to work and learn from home.

With the support of the FirstEnergy Foundation, the Progressive Alliance Community Development Corporation (PACDC) recently teamed up with the Akron-Summit County Public Library (ASCPL) to launch a pilot program that lends internet hotspots and smartspots to residents across greater Akron.

The Library Hotspots Program allows cardholders age 18 and older to borrow a free Wi-Fi device for two weeks. The hotspots and smartspots are available at the Maple Valley and Odom Boulevard branch libraries and must be returned to the lending branch. The program is an expansion of what the ASCPL has provided to the community for years – public computers and free Wi-Fi at all 19 locations – but with the convenience of access from home.

“Whether you’re a parent looking for a job, a child working on a school project or a family looking for information on services, broadband access is no longer a luxury, it’s a necessity,” said David Nelson, executive director of PACDC. “I commend both the ASCPL and FirstEnergy Foundation for their commitment to increasing access to technology through the Library Hotspot program, and I am thrilled to see Akron families get access to the internet so they can bridge the digital divide.”

A $50,000 FirstEnergy Foundation donation to the PACDC helped fund this pilot program as part of the organization’s larger Project Broadband, which aims to bridge the digital divide among underserved residents of Summit County. Funds from the donation will also be used to subsidize the cost of 4G hotspots across the Akron area.

“We are eager to continue supporting initiatives that strengthen the communities we all live and work in," said Lorna Wisham, president of the FirstEnergy Foundation. “We are proud to support PACDC and ASCPL on this important community initiative that promotes digital inclusion within our region.”

The Foundation has donated more than $3.4 million to nearly 100 organizations across FirstEnergy’s six-state service territory as part of an Investing with Purpose initiative. The funds support organizations that advance health and safety, workforce development, educational and social justice initiatives. The grants, awarded in December 2020, represent the first round of approximately $7 million in charitable contributions the Foundation will award as part of the program.

To learn more about FirstEnergy’s community involvement initiatives, visit


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Last Modified: September 1, 2021