Facebook broke ground last year on a new $800 million state-of-the-art data center in Gallatin. Photo courtesy of Facebook

Sumner County Schools will receive $60,000 from Facebook to improve internet access for students in rural areas across the district.

The donation will be used to expand a wireless initiative for underserved areas in the county by purchasing Wi-Fi hotspots, adaptors and expanders, according to a news release Monday.

“The pandemic has shown us that we need to expand our technology reach and our capacity for digital learning,” Sumner County Schools Assistant Director for Information Services Chris Brown said. “It’s critical that Sumner County students have access to the internet even in areas where service is not provided. Giving rural areas access to the internet is vital to ensure these students do not fall behind. We are grateful to Facebook for helping us in our efforts.”

Since April 2020, the school system has provided free internet access at specific locations throughout the county that students and families without home internet access can use to access online educational resources that have been provided by the district.

The funding from Facebook will help improve the connectivity, resiliency and reach of the network and will make a “significant impact” on the school system’s ability to “equip our students with the skills and knowledge our children need to be successful,” according to Sumner County Schools Director Del Phillips.

“Great teachers, parents and community partners lay the foundation for success,” Phillips added. “We are grateful for the generosity and vision of Facebook and look forward to a successful partnership.”

The social media giant announced in August that it had broken ground on an $800 million state-of-the-art data center in Gallatin. The 982,000-square-foot facility will be located on approximately 809 acres off Hartsville Pike between Roundtree Drive and Brights Lane.

Construction is well underway on the foundations for the first two buildings as well as for most of the underground utilities, according to a Facebook spokesperson. The data center is still expected to become operational in 2023.

Last fall, the company announced its plan to provide nearly 30 acres of improved pollinator habitat at the site within the next two years. The area is expected to grow to an estimated 120 acres once the campus is fully built.

"We are thrilled to support students in Sumner County Schools with technology that improves internet connectivity to expand their opportunities to learn, grow and explore," Facebook Community Development Regional Manager Katie Comer said about the financial donation to the school system. "Gallatin is our home, and we are committed to playing a positive role and investing in the community’s long-term vitality."