Common Sense Media on Monday announced a new campaign in Arizona to raise awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program, an effort to bridge the digital divide for low-income families.
The program is the first of its kind to enable low-income families to afford high-speed Internet access. A federal rebate offers households up to $30 per month (or $75 per month on tribal lands) for internet service, plus a one-time rebate of up to $100 for a computer or tablet.
Eligible households include families with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level, and those who are eligible for Lifeline, SNAP, free and reduced-price school meals, WIC, and other programs funded by the government.
The effort aims to provide a source of connection after the COVID-19 pandemic exposed the divergence of internet connections and provide essential online access for work, learning and healthcare. At the same time, it remains out of reach for millions of people in the United States.
“In today’s world, we all need fast, reliable internet access,” said Ilana Lowery, director of Common Sense in Arizona. “Too many people still experience the frustration that comes with using a slow internet connection or relying on a cell phone to perform essential online activities such as doing homework, applying for a job, learning a new skill or participating to a telehealth call. ACP is making fast, reliable internet connectivity in the home more affordable so that all families can have access to what is now a basic life necessity.”
Common Sense is launching its first public awareness campaign in Arizona, where only 25% of the 1,075,000 eligible households currently receive the monthly benefit. The effort will then expand to other communities.
The 12-week bilingual paid advertising campaign will include public service announcements on local TV and radio stations, digital and outdoor ads, grassroots outreach and a call center to support registration.
Consumers will be directed to call a toll-free number or visit getmyinternet.org, where CPA information and eligibility requirements are available in English and Spanish. Common Sense, through a partnership with the Digital Equity Institute, is transforming Arizona State University‘s internal tech support line into a registration help desk for the wider Phoenix community to help families navigate the application process and connect them to the Internet.
“ACP plays a critical role in bridging the digital divide. We know that accessibility remains one of the biggest barriers to equal opportunity and full participation in society,” said Erin Carr -Jordan, Managing Director of the Digital Equity Institute. “By partnering with Common Sense and the ASU Experience Center Digital Navigators, we are leveraging our collective strengths to raise awareness and enroll in the CPA so that residents of the City of Phoenix get the connectivity they need.”
Congress and the Biden administration created the program last year as part of the landmark bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, a 10-year, $1.5 trillion infrastructure investment. across the country, including $65 billion to help ensure that every family and business in America is connected to high-speed internet.
The law represents the biggest investment in broadband accessibility and is a huge step towards one of Common Sense’s top priorities: closing the digital divide forever.
Common Sense research has shown that the digital divide affects every state in the country, primarily affecting underserved households that lack services in urban, suburban, rural and tribal communities.
In Arizona, 335,558 students, or about 29% of all students in the state, and 4,757 teachers (10%) do not have adequate Internet access. Closing the gap through historic investments like the CPA remains essential to reducing inequality, improving educational opportunities and accelerating economic growth.
For more information about the ACP, visit getmyinternet.org.