Free Cell Phones to Public School Students

Incentive-Fueled Mobile Education Program Comes To Oklahoma City

The Million Gives Free Cell Phones to Public School Students in Exchange for Academic Achievement

Oct 08, 2010, 19:57 ET from TracFone Wireless

OKLAHOMA CITY, Oct. 8 /PRNewswire/ -- TracFone Wireless, America's largest "No-Contract" cellular service provider and the Education Innovation Laboratory at Harvard University (EdLabs) announced today the Oklahoma City Public Schools debut of The Million, an innovative, award-winning incentive program that rewards sixth and seventh graders with free cell phones in exchange for academic achievement.

(Photo: )

(Photo: )

The Million will be launched on Friday, October 8th:


Roosevelt Middle School Library

3233 SW 44 / Oklahoma City, OK

Designed in partnership with Dr. Roland Fryer, Founder & Principal Investigator at EdLabs, The Oklahoma City Public Schools Million will allow Dr. Fryer to continue his work testing how students respond to incentives.

"Cell phones are ubiquitous," said Dr. Fryer. "The Million provides an unprecedented opportunity to use technology to communicate with students and boost their academic achievement."

"TracFone is a company dedicated to empowering people by putting them in control," said TracFone CEO FJ Pollak. "We believe that there is a dire academic achievement gap in America, and our goal is to provide less-fortunate public school students with effective ways to bridge that gap. Though nobody has all the answers, we must start somewhere, and partnering with someone of Dr. Fryer's stature means the results of this program will be tested with unmatched rigor."

"OKCPS is excited to be a part of this amazing opportunity to reward our students for academic achievement and put the district and city in the national education spotlight," said Karl Springer, Oklahoma City Public Schools Superintendent.  "Anytime we have the chance to close the achievement gap in urban schools, we need to examine the opportunity and if it is a good fit, make certain our students get the chance to participate," said Springer.

"Oklahoma City has a growing economy and prides itself on creativity and innovative approaches," said Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett. "I applaud the creators of The Million because it addresses very important fundamentals so central to learning. This project is an opportunity for us to work with national partners as well as superintendent Karl Springer. I believe it is a worthy investment of our time and effort."

Though TracFone intends to roll out The Million on a national level, one of the world's first branded corporate social responsibility platforms, the Oklahoma City Public Schools pilot will be a key first step. On October 8, 1500 randomly chosen students will embark on a nine-month experiment. All will receive minutes and texts provided by TracFone, via devices provided by Samsung, with additional support from local business leaders. Students will continue to receive these rewards by reading books via the esteemed Accelerated Reader program.

"The goal," Pollak said, "is that The Million ultimately results in a meaningful increase in high-school graduation, as well as college enrollment and completion. We also intend to see a pronounced increase in reading."

The Oklahoma City Public Schools Million program will kick-off with an October 8 press conference at Roosevelt Middle School. Available for in-person interviews will be Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett, Dr. Roland Fryer, Superintendent of Schools Karl Springer, and TracFone EVP of Sales and Marketing, Rob Dandrea.

The Million originally debuted in New York City, in 2008, the result of collaboration between EdLabs, The New York City Department of Education and Droga5, the acclaimed creative agency. It received the coveted Titanium Award at the Cannes Advertising festival and highest honors from the Clinton Global Initiative.

SOURCE TracFone Wireless