In our work to close the broadband affordability gap for the 18 million U.S. households that have access to the internet but cannot afford to connect, partnerships are critical to removing the barriers that keep under-resourced households offline.
Local leaders can make an immediate impact on the digital divide in their community by launching an Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) awareness campaign. The federal program provides millions of eligible households with a $30 per month discount on internet service. To date, only 23% of Americans who qualify for federal broadband affordability programs have enrolled.
Raising Awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program
EducationSuperHighway recently conducted a pilot ACP awareness event in New York City by partnering with the Stanley W. Isaacs Neighborhood Center (Isaacs Center), the Office of Julie Menin (NYC Council member for District 5), and the Holmes Towers and Stanley Isaacs Resident Associations. The Isaacs Center is a New York City non-profit, and multi-service organization focused on the needs of children and low-income families, out-of-school and out-of-work youth, and aging New Yorkers.
The first of the two events, held on April 27, 2022, marked the launch of a new pilot initiative to enroll residents of multiple dwelling units (MDUs) en masse for the ACP. Together, we worked to grow awareness of the ACP among residents of the combined five buildings at Holmes Towers and Isaacs Houses and to assist them with the ACP enrollment process. Due to their qualification for the public housing program, residents of Holmes Towers and Isaacs Houses, all under the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), are automatically eligible for the ACP.
Working Together to Close the Affordability Gap in Oakland
May 6, 2022, marked the second anniversary of #OaklandUndivided, a partnership started in 2020 between Oakland Unified School District, the City of Oakland, Tech Exchange, the Oakland Public Education Fund, Oakland Promise, and more than 20 other community partners to ensure that all Oakland public school students could access online learning.
The day began with a presentation on the unprecedented success of #OaklandUndivided in closing the digital divide for nearly all its students (98 percent of all students now have a computer and internet service). This was followed by a round-table discussion about digital equity and the role that our ongoing Oakland Connect partnership with the City of Oakland and #OaklandUndivided plays in closing the digital divide for all Oaklanders. Our team then accompanied FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks on a visit to some of the properties newly connected to high-speed broadband through our Free Apartment Wi-Fi program.
To date, EducationSuperHighway has worked with an array of partner institutions and Oakland Public Schools to support ACP sign-up events and awareness campaigns across the city. In addition, our Apartment Wi-Fi program has connected 12 buildings, representing 276 units with free, building-wide connections to broadband internet through managed service provider solutions.
Building our public-private partnerships to close the broadband affordability gap is critical to addressing the barriers to broadband adoption and achieving our goal of connecting an estimated nearly 37,000 unconnected Oakland households by 2026.