SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – There was reason to celebrate at the Boys and Girls Club of Springfield Tuesday where a major initiative was unveiled to help bridge the digital divide among the club’s families!

22News was in attendance and tells how this step will help the city move forward toward a bigger goal. This technology will help to expand internet access to these kids and their families, with plans to later help better the city as a whole.

200 Chromebooks are now accessible to the kids at the Springfield Boys and Girls Club.

“It will be helpful for school because you can always go on extra math and it will challenge you to get the answers quickly,” said Angel Gonzalez.

“I’m gonna be watching Netflix on it!” said Jaylani Rivera.

“The ‘digital divide’ is for too many parts of America really don’t have access to broadband, I think if COVID showed that broadband is the lifeblood and is as important as electricity and water, but too many Americans don’t have access to broadband. So this is one way to do it right? Provide computers so kids can get online,” said John Emra, AT&T New England President.

The Executive Director of the Boys and Girls Club hopes this technology will assist his club members to excel academically.

“I think if we want to see our kids go to the next level, technology is key. Many of their homes don’t have internet access but we have it here at the Boys and Girls Club, so they can come here, do their homework, and really progress in school,” said Vinny Borello, Executive Director of Springfield Boys and Girls Club.

Local Springfield Leaders, seeing the bigger picture, say there is a growing demand for reliable and affordable internet service citywide.

“This ‘digital divide’ we want to shrink it and make sure everyone has access,” said Springfield Mayor Domenic J. Sarno.

Springfield City Councilor Jesse Lederman says a feasibility study is in the works…which will determine the costs and steps needed to create a municipal fiber internet network in the city…

“I’ve heard from so many residents was that they were just tired of being nickeled and dimed for internet access especially when we know it becomes so essential to access education, commerce, and healthcare, we want Springfield residents to get the same benefit that surrounding communities are getting from municipal fiber,” said Jesse Lederman of Springfield City Council.

Springfield is set to receive more than $100 million in COVID relief funds through the American Rescue Plan. under that plan is funding the expansion of broadband infrastructure, and according to City Councilor Jesse Lederman, that feasibility study should be wrapping up by this summer.