A new initiative from Rhode Island Gov. Dan McKee is looking to increase awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program that aims to help lower-income families pay for high-speed internet.
The ACP, funded by the Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), provides eligible households with a monthly discount of up to $30 per month, up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands, and a one-time $100 discount toward a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. According to the governor’s office, 173,369 Rhode Island households are eligible for the ACP, but only 60,534 have enrolled.
“No family in our state should worry about choosing between paying a broadband bill and paying rent or buying groceries,” said Gov. McKee. “The new Affordable Connectivity Program provides households with $30 per month toward broadband service for eligible households and a $100 discount on a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet. We are committed to closing the digital divide by driving awareness of this vital program.”
The state is partnering with EducationSuperHighway, a nonprofit that works to close the broadband affordability gap. As part of its efforts, the state will work to build a coalition of local stakeholders and trusted institutions to overcome complex awareness, trust, and enrollment barriers that prevent eligible households from enrolling. The governor’s office said participants will include housing authorities, nonprofits, school districts, libraries, and internet service providers.
“Reliable, accessible, and affordable internet is a necessity for everyday life, and we must eliminate economic barriers to obtaining a stable connection. By spreading the word about the ACP, we can ensure every Rhode Islander has full access to the economic and educational opportunities they deserve,” said Lt. Governor Sabina Matos.
As a nonprofit partner, EducationSuperHighway will provide training to community leaders and partner organizations and provide outreach materials and tools to help households enroll. In a press release, the state noted that the non-profit recently launched GetACP.org/Rhode_Island. According to EducationSuperHighway, the website is 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.”