During the August Open Commission Meeting, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced new resources to help more households get enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program:
- The first is the Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program, which will offer $100 million in competitive grant funding to entities working to inform eligible households about Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and assist them with the enrollment process.
- The second is the “Your Home, Your Internet” pilot program, a $10 million program intended to help raise awareness about ACP among households receiving federal housing benefits.
The ACP, created by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, (IIJA) presents an opportunity to narrow the digital divide in many communities by providing qualified households with a $30 monthly discount on broadband service. However, enrollment in the program has lagged substantially behind the potential pool of beneficiaries.
Local governments can be a key role as outreach partners for the ACP benefit. Local leaders can weave ACP outreach into existing communications channels, from local social and traditional media sources and utility bills, to libraries, to programs and events that connect residents to other benefits, such as tax assistance or financial empowerment activities.
While details are not yet available on the application process and deadlines, the FCC’s new Affordable Connectivity Outreach Grant Program and the “Your Home, Your Internet” pilot will help local governments fund these outreach and digital navigation efforts. In addition, other funds available through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, including the Broadband Access, Equity and Deployment fund and the Digital Equity Act grant program, will open in 2023 to help support digital navigation services.
Local leaders don’t need to wait for grant funds to become available to improve ACP outreach and start building a digital navigation program. The League’s federal partner, the National League of Cities (NLC), created a Digital Equity Playbook and webinar series that can help cities evaluate ACP enrollment and other indicators of need locally, as well as learn what programs and actions other cities have taken to promote ACP enrollment among qualified households. The FCC’s ACP outreach toolkit includes resources in a variety of languages, as well as a listserv with regular updates on new resources and opportunities from the federal government. The National Digital Inclusion Alliance offers sample resources, guides, and examples to help cities build their own digital navigation programs from the ground up.
No matter a city’s size, location, or demographic composition, every community has residents who would benefit from accessing the ACP benefit. Local governments should position themselves for success in upcoming grant opportunities by establishing a strong baseline of ACP outreach and considering what other resources might be needed to build or grow a digital navigation program for the future.
We will update you as program details, applications, and deadlines become available.
Contact: Paul Penna, Senior Legislative Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org or 609-695-3481, x110.