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PROVIDENCE, RI –As the academic year comes to a close, the Providence Public School District (PPSD) proudly reflects on its pilot program that championed the establishment of cell phone-free schools. Nathanael Greene Middle School made history by becoming the first public school in Rhode Island to adopt Yondr pouches, a solution for students to securely store their cell phones during school hours. The success of this program has paved the way for its expansion to other PPSD middle schools.


"Since its launch in February, we have been hearing from teachers, students, and parents about advancements in class participation and engagement throughout the entire school building. Students come to school with the purpose of learning and receiving a quality education,” said Superintendent Dr. Javier Montañez. “This initiative strives to keep students fully engaged in the curriculum, free from unnecessary disruptions. The Yondr pouches have so far been an effective tool in eliminating distractions within the learning environment."


Yondr, the company behind the innovative pouches, is dedicated to creating phone-free spaces in schools. Under this program, each student receives a pouch to take home. Upon arriving at school, students turn off their phones and securely place them in the locked pouch. The pouch remains locked until the end of the school day when students retrieve their phones from their assigned exits, assisted by staff members. Students with medical conditions requiring phone access have been provided with a specially designed bag featuring a convenient Velcro closure.


Providence initiated the Yondr pouch pilot program in February 2023, following extensive communication with staff and families led by Lynne Smith, the Health and Physical Education Teacher at Nathanael Greene Middle School. During the initial phase, feedback from Greene's families and staff was collected through surveys, revealing overwhelming support for a program trial. The collaboration with Nathanael Greene Middle School paved the way for other PPSD middle schools to follow suit. After the successful pilot program, Greene's staff and families reported immediate improvements in class participation, as well as a significant reduction in cell phone usage.


Providence Schools spearheaded the implementation of Yondr pouches in Rhode Island's public education system. Recognizing the impact of Yondr pouches, schools across various states, including Massachusetts, Texas, and California, have embraced this practice.