4 Your Mission is a blog from Mobile Beacon that helps you – a nonprofit – achieve your mission by bringing you up-to-date info and tips that you can really use.
Subscribe to Mobile Beacon's Newsletter

Tech Term of the Week

Electronic Resources Management (ERM)

Systems developed to assist librarians in the control of licensed third-party resources published electronically (databases,e-books, e-journals, etc.), including license management, renewal, legal use, access management, and collection development.

View Archive
Mobile Beacon on Facebook

ALA’s Larra Clark Spotlights Mobile Beacon Research on Hotspot Lending

Libraries can make a significant societal impact by providing internet services to their patrons who otherwise do not have access. Earlier this year, Samantha Schartman-Cycyk and our Executive Director Katherine Messier conducted a research study “Creating Opportunity Through Connectivity”, which reported on Mobile Beacon library customers’ hotspot lending programs and the positive impact that internet access had on the community. Connectivity to mobile, unlimited internet for patrons can provide countless opportunities for personal and professional growth that are inaccessible offline.

Larra Clark, Deputy Director of the American Library Association highlights some key details of our research paper in her recent article for the Benton Foundation. She addresses the impact that libraries have on their communities and the prevalence of hotspot lending programs among our library customers. Clark also speaks to the essential role that public libraries play in digital empowerment for their community members, not just by having a physical location, but by allowing them to bring connectivity home with them.

Read Larra Clark’s full article here and you can read Mobile Beacon’s full research paper here.

Read More

A Look Back at PCs for People & Mobile Beacon’s Bridging the Gap Distribution Events in Denver

Mobile Beacon and PCs for People Denver recently completed a series of technology distribution events held in Denver, CO from September 2016 until May of 2017. Through our Bridging the Gap program, Mobile Beacon and  PCs for People Denver partnered to provide computers, hotspots, and affordable internet to individuals and families under the 200% poverty line, and other Denver community members in need. The average annual family income of the recipients was just $14,300. In the first eight months we donated 1,600 computers and 870 hotspots with the help of 27 area schools and community organizations as partners in these events.




More than 5,000 family members received either a computer, internet access, or both. Nearly half of the recipients (41%)  had never had home Internet before receiving their hotspots and three months of free Mobile Beacon’s unlimited, uncapped, and unthrottled 4G LTE Internet access. The majority (57%) of recipients said that the desktop or laptop they received from PCs for People Denver was their first home computer. Although it was not their primary goal, PCs for People as an organization also felt a positive effect. They were able to establish themselves and thrive quickly in the Denver community after only their first year in their new market.

“Every home deserves equitable access to the information, education and opportunity available via technology. Access to technology in the home leads to an increase in graduation rates, economic output, and long-term employment. By partnering with Mobile Beacon we were able to infuse computers and internet service in Colorado to close the digital divide and level the playing field for our recipients and their more affluent peers.”

-Julie Seltz, Executive Director, PCs for People


The Bridging the Gap program emphasizes the “whole-family” approach to digital inclusion. While the distribution events often provided a computer and/or internet access for one member, all family members  will now be able to have access to technology to help them better with academics. Having a computer and internet will help parents to enhance their digital literacy skills so they can better research college programs for their children, check their homework, track their grades, and communicate with their teachers easier and more frequently. These distributed devices can also help parents and seniors with adult education classes they may be taking, find better jobs, or research and apply for government assistance.


Mobile Beacon and PCs for

Read More

Hotspot Lending Success at Wilmington Public Library

By Maria Meachum, Director, Wilmington Public Library District


Let’s dispel a myth today. We will do my personal favorite: “Nowadays everybody has internet” aka “you can get free wifi anywhere.” Talk about fake news. The Pew Group, one of the nations leading polling groups recently released a study that shows while lower income Americans are slowly bridging the gap on the digital divide there is still much work to be done to close it. Approximately 53% of families that make less than $30,000 have broadband internet service and only 63% have a smartphone. People argue they see “poor” kids with smartphones everywhere but it’s likely that they are older phones without data plans and use any free Wi-Fi they can find.  When you work in small town America but live in a big city as I do, you see this divide in action. When my broadband access goes out at home I can scan four or five other Wi-Fi signals, some unwisely unlocked. Yet in the town where I work you may have to get in your car and drive to the library to get Wi-Fi for free.


The stigma attached with not having a smartphone or internet service is deep and more crippling than you might think. While a commonly regurgitated myth states 80% of all jobs are only attained online has been debunked it is true that that is where over 80% of all jobs that are advertised are being advertised.  Look at any newspaper today and compare it to one from the 80s and you will see it.  This is why we offer mobile hotspot lending at my library. We want to help close the gap. A better job that might be found online from the comfort of your home today could mean you can afford broadband service tomorrow. Until then you can borrow ours.


Recently we had a patron come in to get a hotspot for his job. He delivers pizza. He has a smartphone with a GPS app but no data plan. He said he saves a lot of time and money using our hotspot in the car with his phone. He saves on gas and avoids bad routes which save him time. He delivers almost twice as many pizzas as other delivery drivers and customers request him now. He hates the days he can’t get one. He never came to the

Read More

Hillsboro School District Uses Mobile Beacon Hotspot Donations for Students in Need

The Hillsboro Independent School District serves a diverse student population in the heart of rural Texas. After instituting a one-to-one technology program at the local high school for all freshmen through junior students, teachers began to realize that not everyone had internet access at home. To prevent any student from falling behind, Hillsboro High School developed a solution. A hotspot lending library was created for students to bring the internet home by checking out mobile hotspots. To help implement they turned to Mobile Beacon’s donation program with Digital Wish.

Hillsboro Hotspot Lending Program

Hillsboro Hotspot Lending Program

Each day students without home internet access are able to check out a hotspot to complete their homework, access their Google classroom, browse the web and communicate with friends. The high school currently has 20 devices available for checkout with usually between 16 and 18 devices loaned daily. The school requires that students complete a digital citizenship course to learn about how to use the internet appropriately before they check out a device, and only students without home internet access are eligible.

“Our kids love having the devices,” said Jo Hayes, a Hillsboro High School administrator. “The feedback [from the students] is that they are just very grateful they have the internet at home. The hotspots help students do their work and they can be a normal teenager.”

A few departments at the high school have hotspots that they use for afterschool activities. The athletic department, for example, takes the hotspots on the bus when they have to travel for games for students to complete their homework. Up to 10 Wi-Fi enabled devices can connect to one hotspot so a few hotspots can handle a bus load of students.

The Hillsboro Independent School District also provides Mobile Beacon hotspots for their teachers at the elementary school. The rural district struggles with reliable access to the internet, and many teachers experience unreliable internet at home. They are able to bring the hotspots home to review homework assignments and complete lesson plans.

Mobile Beacon hotspot

Mobile Beacon hotspot

Providing and utilizing hotspots is not a new concept to the Hillsboro Independent School District. Prior to discovering the Mobile Beacon donation program with Digital Wish, the school was paying $566 a month for only 14 devices, which was grant funded. As the grant period was coming to an end the district realized they could not afford to keep the hotspots, but also couldn’t

Read More

FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel: 1 in 5 Students Fall into Homework Gap

FCC Commisioner Jessica Rosenworcel was a featured speaker at SETDA’s event for her work closing the homework gap.

FCC Commisioner Jessica Rosenworcel was a featured speaker at SETDA’s event for her work closing the homework gap.

Earlier this month, Mobile Beacon joined our friends at the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) in Washington, DC to educate our lawmakers about why it’s so important to ensure our schools, kids and communities are able to connect to fast and reliable internet service.

At the Capitol Hill briefing, we heard from FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel that today, seven in ten teachers assign homework that requires Internet access. But according to data from the FCC, one in three households does not have broadband service.

Read More

Together, we kept more than 260,000 people online – and counting!

It is amazing what a group of committed and passionate people can do! At the end of last year, Mobile Beacon finally had the ability to transition our community of school, library, and nonprofit users to Sprint’s 4G LTE network. With only 90 days before Sprint’s WiMAX network was permanently shut down, our small staff of nine began the huge task of ensuring every single client who relied on us for Internet access had the opportunity to make the move to LTE.

Read More

Spring Forward: National Digital Inclusion Efforts on the Rise


Having worked on digital inclusion programs for the last six years, it’s hard to contain our excitement about the huge leaps forward that have occurred in the first three months of 2016. It seems like we’re finally beyond the “It’s 20XX, doesn’t everyone have access to technology?” and “Isn’t Internet access like cable, great to have, but not necessary?” discussions. We’re now on to large-scale, national programs that are making real progress to close the digital divide in America.

Read More

5,000+ Low Income Twin Cities Residents Now Online with LTE!



Last week, on the eve of the WiMAX shutdown in the Twin Cities, Mobile Beacon was on site in St. Paul with our partner, PCs for People (PCP), to help remaining low-income Twin Cities residents get online with our new 4G LTE service. It was a busy day right from the start. Before PCs for People’s doors opened at 10 am, 22 people were lined up outside. Some had driven more than 40 miles to get there, others had arrived two hours early to be among the first to get their new devices.

Read More

Court Grants Motion by Nonprofits and Sprint to Extend WIMAX Service Through March



(BOSTON) January 29, 2016 – A Massachusetts state court today granted a joint motion to extend a preliminary injunction that temporarily saved Internet access to 1,820 nonprofits, 429 schools, and 61 libraries across the country. The motion was made by six nonprofit organizations who provide broadband access to more than 300,000 vulnerable Americans and Sprint Spectrum LP, though the telecommunications company remains a defendant in ongoing legal action with the nonprofits.

Read More

Turning the Corner to a New Year


This holiday season, we’re feeling extremely grateful for the support of our customers and excited for the new year to come. It was a particularly challenging year with many unknowns about the future state of our service with Sprint. With your help, a court order, and a lot of tenacity from the Mobile Beacon team, we are moving forward getting all of our current customers transitioned to Sprint’s LTE service.

Read More

Stop Sprint’s Shenanigans. Join Us Friday in DC.

The clock on the 90-day injunction stopping Sprint from cutting Internet access is ticking. And even with the courts stepping in to stop Sprint from shutting off the Internet, Sprint is dragging its heels and filing appeal after appeal.

Read More

Sen. Bob Casey asks FCC to Monitor Shutdown

Acknowledging “it is critical that the Internet continues to be an affordable tool for those working toward a better life,” Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) urged FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler to closely monitor Sprint’s WiMAX shutdown in a letter dated Nov. 20, 2015.

Read More

Sprint Loses in Court Again

This just in: In an another attempt to subvert the orders of Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Janet Sanders, for sale Sprint asked an appeals court to suspend her decision and force the nonprofits that run Mobile Citizen and Mobile Beacon to pony up a $65 million bond despite her ruling that this was excessive and unnecessary. But just like Judge Sanders did, the appellate court firmly rejected Sprint’s requests, dismissing them before we even submitted our papers.

Read More

Philadelphians Protest Sprint’s Plan to Cut Internet to 300,000 Vulnerable Americans



(PHILADELPHIA) November 17, 2015 – A group of Philadelphia residents took to the streets today in front of a downtown Sprint store to protest the Sprint Corporation’s continued effort to shut off broadband access to more than 300,000 vulnerable Americans – including at least 10,000 Philadelphians.

Read More

Tuesday: Philadelphians Protest Sprint Plan to Cut Internet to 300,000

#STOPSPRINT Philadelphia Shareble Graphic-02

(PHILADELPHIA) November 16, 2015
– A group of Philadelphia residents will protest the Sprint Corporation’s continued effort to shut off broadband access to more than 300,000 vulnerable Americans, including at least 10,000 Philadelphians, with a protest Tuesday at noon in front of a downtown Sprint store.

Read More