Main Content

Press Release

05 August 2023 · 6 min. read

Hamilton County, Chattanooga mayors issue joint proclamation: ‘Being back-to-school ready means being connected’

CHATTANOOGA, TN, Aug. 5, 2023 — For over 28,000 residents across Hamilton County, being back-to-school ready now includes being connected to no-cost internet through HCS EdConnect, powered by EPB.

Saturday, Hamilton County Mayor Weston Wamp and Chattanooga Mayor Tim Kelly issued a joint proclamation declaring Aug. 5 the Day of Digital Opportunity for Students and Families and recognizing the importance of the internet as an in-home tool necessary for student success, crediting the HCS EdConnect program for its ongoing community impact.

“This public-private partnership reflects the core values of Hamilton County, actively engaging parents into their children’s education and leaving no family behind,” said Mayor Wamp. “Thanks to EdConnect, students from across Hamilton County will have equal access to the tools of the digital world, significantly expanding their educational opportunities.”

HCS EdConnect is a partnership between Hamilton County Schools, EPB and The Enterprise Center to bring high-speed, no-cost Wi-Fi to qualifying students and their families. To sign up, parents or guardians simply have to request it through their youngest child’s school office. And at Saturday’s HCS Back To School Bash, attending families had the opportunity to connect with EPB directly and those who qualified received a start date for the service.

“HCS EdConnect helps ensure that every parent has the opportunity to be engaged with their child’s learning,” said Mayor Kelly. “We know a student’s success is about more than getting homework done: It’s a parent checking out a book to read from our Public Library at night, scheduling a telehealth checkup, or building their own skills for a good-paying job. And it’s our non-profit community’s ability to connect with families. HCS EdConnect is a nationally recognized program and is a real game changer in terms of how the entire community supports our students.”

“As HCS EdConnect enters its fourth year, Hamilton County Schools are the best connected in the country,” agreed HCS Superintendent Justin Robertson. “Our educators are expanding the walls of the classroom, supporting students pursuing individual passions, and preparing this next generation to chart their own course in a technology-fueled future, because they know every student can stay connected. Student well-being is at the heart of our Opportunity 2030 strategic plan, and HCS EdConnect is crucial infrastructure for that goal.”

Since launching in July 2020 to provide home-based internet service at no cost to every K-12 student in need in Hamilton County, HCS EdConnect, powered by EPB, has grown to serve over 16,000 students – who with their families represent more than 28,000 Chattanooga area residents who benefit from the program.

“HCS EdConnect embodies EPB's mission is to enhance the quality of life in our community through the services we offer,” said EPB President and CEO David Wade. “Having access to high-speed internet at home opens new possibilities for children and families. We’re committed, through HCS EdConnect, to ensuring every Hamilton County student has the opportunities, and the connectivity, to thrive in an ever-advancing educational environment.”

"We heard from one parent, 'My child was behind in math and reading as well as motor skill issues and needed supplemental help. Once provided the right supplemental resources to work on at home she's made tremendous gains in math and reading,'" shared Dr. Damian Bebell, assistant research professor at Boston College's Lynch School of Education, who works with the project. "And our evaluation has born out the positive impact connectivity has had on parents' regular communication with their children's schools, and on their positive beliefs regarding technology's impact on reading, math and creativity."

In addition to making it possible for parents and teachers to meet virtually and communicate more regularly, HCS EdConnect powered by EPB provides parents with continuing access to their child’s progress. The program also affords older students and parents opportunities to pursue ongoing education online and search for jobs while contributing positively to the health of the household through telehealth and access to other healthcare resources.

The program has been hailed as a national model because it guarantees year-round internet access at no charge to every family with students in need for at least 10 years – with plans to raise more funds as needed to maintain the program indefinitely.

“I’ve had the opportunity to present some of the research our partners at Boston College and UTC have conducted alongside HCS EdConnect, and there is no program like it nationally especially with regard to the quality of service and its longevity,” said The Enterprise Center CEO Deb Socia. “The program is an ongoing testament to not only the impact connectivity has on our students and families, but to the care and commitment our community has for every neighbor and in every neighborhood.”

HCS EdConnect is a public-private partnership made possible through support and engagement from Hamilton County, Hamilton County Schools, the City of Chattanooga, EPB, The Enterprise Center, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee, The Benwood Foundation, the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga, the Footprint Foundation, The Maclellan Foundation, Lyndhurst Foundation, private donors and CARES funding from the State of Tennessee.

To find out more about HCS EdConnect or enroll in the program today, visit

About EPB

EPB is an independent board of the City of Chattanooga which began serving customers in 1939 and today reaches a 600-square-mile service territory including the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, and the surrounding area. With the mission of enhancing quality of life in our community, EPB operates the most advanced and highly automated smart grid power distribution system in the United States and has received recognition from J.D. Power for Best Customer Satisfaction for Residential Electric Service in the South among Midsize Utilities over the last seven consecutive years. In 2010, EPB launched the country’s first community-wide Gig speed internet and still operates the world’s fastest community-wide internet service today at speeds up to 25 Gig. Committed to keeping Chattanooga on the cutting edge, EPB announced the creation of America’s first commercially available quantum network in 2022: EPB Quantum Network℠ powered by Qubitekk. Learn more at

About HCS

Hamilton County Schools serves over 45,000 students in more than 78 schools throughout the Chattanooga and Hamilton County area. We are a diverse school district by all accounts, and are dedicated to creating an educational environment in which all students have the opportunity to thrive and experience a future without limits.

In addition to HCS EdConnect, we encourage families to utilize a wide array of additional resources at their disposal to help support their student’s success. HCS Parent University provides access to a wide variety of tools all in one location to help empower families to be full partners in their child’s education. Through the HCS Family Resource Center, families can get connected to internal and external resources related to transportation, child care, academic support, mental and physical health, finances, and more! Follow along with us on our HCS Facebook page to stay up to date on school district news, additional resources and events, and bright spots.

To learn more about Hamilton County Schools and supports available to families, visit

About The Enterprise Center

The Enterprise Center is a nonprofit economic development partner to the city, county, region and state dedicated to uniting people, organizations and technology to build an advanced and inclusive future rooted in community connection.

With a focus on equity, collaboration and workforce development, TEC partners to provide access to technology, skills training and information through programming like Tech Goes Home, EMPACT, Chattamatters, The Innovation District and more.

To learn more about The Enterprise Center’s work and resources, visit


Enjoy? Share with your friends

Contact Media Relations


We welcome journalists to contact the Media Relations team for information and news about EPB:

Follow @EPB_Chattanooga for the latest company news


We’re available anytime to provide customer service and technical support.


Click to gain access to the EPB Brand Central asset library.