[caption id="attachment_230263" align="aligncenter" width="1980"] First State launches an initiative to increase awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program, a federal benefit to help lower-income families pay for high-speed internet. | PHOTO COURTESY OF GOVERNOR CARNEY FLICKR [/caption]
DOVER – Governor John Carney and municipal leaders launched a statewide initiative to increase awareness of the AffordableConnectivity Program (ACP), a federal benefit to help lower-income families pay for high-speed internet. The statewide initiative will kick off with concerted outreach campaigns planned by local leaders in Dover, Georgetown, Milford, Seaford, and Wilmington over the next month, with other cities and towns also pledging to spread awareness.
The ACP is a federal broadband benefit funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law passed in November 2021 and championed by President Joe Biden, U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons, and U.S. Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester. The ACP provides eligible households with a monthly discount of up to $30 on their internet bill and a one-time $100 discount toward a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. More than 140,000 Delaware households are estimated to be eligible for the ACP, and about 32,000 have enrolled so far. In partnership with EducationSuperHighway, a national non-profit with a mission to close the broadband affordability gap, the Delaware initiative will build a coalition of local stakeholders and trusted institutions to overcome awareness, trust, and enrollment barriers that prevent households in under-resourced communities from enrolling.
ACP-eligible households include families with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level and those who qualify for SNAP, Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch, WIC, and other government-funded programs. The new initiative will leverage state and city channels to directly promote the ACP to households in these programs and unite local governments, community-based organizations, and trusted institutions to reach unconnected households.
Combined with commitments by internet service providers to deliver high-speed internet plans for no more than $30 per month, qualifying households may receive high-speed internet at no cost when they sign-up for the ACP.
“Stable, high-speed internet connection is critical for all Delaware families, students, and businesses. The Affordable Connectivity Program will help ensure everyone has internet access for school, work, health care, and more,” Governor Carney said in a statement. “I want to thank all of our partners for working together to boost enrollment in this program, especially Mayor Christiansen, Mayor West, Mayor Campbell, Mayor Genshaw, and Mayor Purzycki.”
“We were proud to help craft and vote for the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which made historic investments in our nation’s infrastructure needs - from roads and transit to broadband and water,” U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Chris Coons and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester said. “We applaud Governor Carney’s leadership in prioritizing unserved and underserved communities and making sure all corners of Delaware can get connected to high speed internet through this robust broadband benefit.”
EducationSuperHighway will support statewide awareness efforts by training community leaders and partner organizations and providing outreach materials and tools to help households enroll. The non-profit recently launched GetACP.org, a virtual mobile assistant that simplifies the ACP enrollment process by providing real-time support to help eligible households determine the easiest way to qualify. The mobile website is available in four languages and helps applicants overcome critical barriers in the enrollment process by helping them identify the documents needed when applying and find "free with ACP" broadband plans available at their address.
"Broadband is one of the most transformative technologies of our generation, but too many people are left behind because they don't have reliable, affordable access to the internet," Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway said. "We applaud Governor Carney's bold leadership and are ready to work with the mayors and community leaders of Dover, Georgetown, Milford, Seaford, and Wilmington to remove the barriers that keep households in the nation's most under-resourced communities offline."
The initiative to address internet affordability with ACP is part of an overall strategy in Delaware to connect currently unserved homes to high-speed fiber broadband, as well as to work toward “digital equity” by providing connections, devices, and skills in underserved communities – all efforts funded by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. Learn more at https://broadband.delaware.gov/.
Cities and towns participating in the Delaware ACP outreach initiative as of March 21 are:
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