Best Buy Joins New Partnership to Bring Tech, Internet to Minnesota Students

Best Buy is teaming up with other prominent Minnesota organizations to help fight the digital divide across the state.

We’re proud to be one of the leaders of the Partnership for a ConnectedMN, a public-private partnership announced by Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Tuesday. This initiative will provide technology devices and internet access to youth from disinvested communities across Minnesota, both urban and rural. 

“As someone who grew up in rural Minnesota in a family without many resources, I am aware of how important this effort is. Without it, far too many of our state’s students will be left behind as we face an uncertain school year, more reliant than ever on the tools and resources necessary to learn remotely,” Best Buy CEO Corie Barry said. “As a founding partner, we are pleased to work with the governor and other organizations to truly ‘connect Minnesota,’ and I call upon my fellow CEOs to engage however they and their businesses are able.”

This initiative is just the latest example of our ongoing commitment to teens and technology, which has remained strong throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve donated millions of dollars in funding for local nonprofits and provided teens with laptops, tablets and internet hotspots to help them stay connected during this time.

In addition to Best Buy, the other founding members of ConnectedMN are the Blandin Foundation, Comcast, Minnesota Business Partnership and Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation. To date, we’ve collectively helped raise more than $1.65 million in cash and in-kind donations to ensure no student is left behind — no matter what school looks like over the coming year.

Additional organizations who have supported the partnership include Accenture, Andersen Corporation, Bush Foundation, Ecolab, EY, Land O’Lakes, Minneapolis Foundation, Protolabs Foundation, Richard M. Schulze Family Foundation, Securian Financial, SPS Commerce Foundation and Xcel Energy.

A more connected Minnesota

The Minnesota Department of Education estimates that at least 25,000 students in the state don’t have the tech devices and high-speed internet access that are now essential for learning. They are disproportionately students of color, Indigenous students and low-income students.

In the wake of COVID-19 and recent civil injustices in the news, the realities of the longstanding, systemic inequities that families across the nation face are glaring. And the gap between who does and does not have access to the technology and tools required to learn has become more apparent than ever.

Working with the governor and Minnesota Department of Education, ConnectedMN aims to:

  • Provide at least 25,000 students from disinvested communities across the state with computing devices and high-speed internet access.
  • Support solutions for the lack of reliable, affordable internet access in select urban and rural communities across the state.
  • Ensure students have access via technology to the essential resources required to connect and engage in school and other critical services, including telemedicine and mental health.

More information about ConnectedMN’s application process will be available later in July.

“I’m grateful to see Minnesota companies step up and help meet the needs of students,” Gov. Walz said. “We need to work together — as individuals, state agencies, private companies and schools — to face the opportunity gap and make sure that Minnesota is the best state for each and every child to grow up and receive the best education possible.”

Click here for more information about ConnectedMN, including updates on the launch and details on how businesses, philanthropic organizations and individuals can get involved.