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District : Sunnyside Unified School District

State : Arizona

Level : P-12

District Enrollment : Less than 1,000 students

Community Type : Rural, Suburban

Related Tags : Connectivity

Internet access to low-income homes

Sunnyside Unified School District in Tucson, Arizona, is an example of a district pursuing strategies to connect students when they are off campus. It is the 13th largest school district of the state with 19 schools. Nearly 90% of the district’s 17,265 students identify as Hispanic. Additionally, nearly 30% of the student population are classified as English language learners, and 14% of the population receive special education services.

The Challenge

When it came time for students to complete their academic work outside of school using district-provided devices, Sunnyside realized it faced a challenge. Many families within the the district could not afford Internet access at home. Approximately 86% of students are eligible for free or reduced price meals. This issue was exacerbated by the lack of infrastructure to provide adequate connectivity, given the expansive geography the district serves.

The Solution

To provide access, the district has offered free/reduced cost WiFi to families, enabling students to access the Internet and do homework at home. In Spring 2012, Connect2Compete launched a pilot program in 60 San Diego schools to provide internet service for families who qualify for free lunches. That fall the program was expanded to target 1,000 schools nationwide (including Tucson). 75% of all students in the school now have internet access.


  • Participation in technology programs requires a minimum attendance rate and GPA.
  • Make parent and student education on Internet safety a priority.
  • District owned laptops have filters but not personal devices

Additional Resources

From Sunnyside Unified School District:

From the U.S. Department of Education:

District Point of Contact:

Phone: 520-545-2000
Twitter: @sunnysideusd