Sanctuary for Families helps clients live a full life away from abusive relationships. At least 85% of the people they serve are single women with children looking for a new start. Through the nonprofit’s economic empowerment program, clients receive education and training to earn certificates in Microsoft Office Suite. They also receive career support through internships and interview practice.

Prior to the onset of the Covid 19 pandemic, clients met at Sanctuary for Families’ offices in New York City. When the pandemic hit, Sanctuary for Families needed to hold remote classes instead. Clients were given laptops for classwork, but very few of them had reliable Internet access outside of the classroom.

Challenge
About 40- 50% of the Economic Empowerment Program’s clients live in shelters, and the rest live in apartments. Many of the buildings lack WiFi, leaving trainers with a challenge: how could they help their clients access coursework online?

To solve the problem, Sanctuary for Families reached out to Mobile Citizen for WiFi hotspot devices and mobile Internet services. The nonprofit was attracted to Mobile Citizen’s unlimited high-speed data as well as its affordable one-year contracts.

Solution
“The pandemic showed the world how big the digital divide was,” explained Nicole Delancey, IT Manager at Sanctuary for Families. “Mobile Citizen was a huge factor in our ability to close what was a huge gap.”

Mobile Citizen provides high-speed mobile Internet with unlimited data at a cost of about $120 per year, exclusively to schools, libraries, nonprofits, and social welfare agencies. Each hotspot can connect multiple devices. At Sanctuary for Families, this meant that children could connect on other devices while their parents worked on their classwork.

“Our clients are in the program for about one year, including classes and internships. We give them a hotspot to use until they have a new job. Once they are steady, we reassign the hotspot to a new client,” said Delancey. Sanctuary for Families has circulated over 100 Mobile Citizen hotspots since 2021.

Results
Going remote has its advantages. According to Delancey, certification scores are higher and families have more flexibility. For example, clients can study away from the classroom and connect with other students from the class. They no longer need to find childcare during class time, plus they have reliable high-speed Internet access for virtual interviews.

According to Delancey: “So far, 53 clients have gotten jobs with an average salary of over $48,000—training entirely online—with the help of Mobile Citizen internet services. We are grateful!”

Sanctuary for Families is New York’s leading service provider and advocate for survivors of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and related forms of gender violence. With remote learning, the organization has been able to expand service outside of NYC, with clients in Ohio, Florida, and Maryland. Delancey hopes to be able to provide services throughout the East coast if there is funding.

“Having Internet access is necessary for life,” she explained. “Being able to fill out forms, applications, schedule appointments, and look up how to do something is huge for our clients. They get to go from dependence and being controlled to gaining independence and confidence.”

Affordable mobile internet from Mobile Citizen helps organizations like Sanctuary for Families bridge gaps in home internet access, creating a more equitable society for all. To explore opportunities for your organization, please contact our experts in the Mobile Citizen Customer Service Center at 877-216-9603.

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