Fort Myers, FL 06/14/2023 – Today, Goodwill Industries of SWFL in partnership with Civic Nation announced a new initiative to close the digital divide in SWFL. The new initiative aims to build awareness about the $14 billion Affordable Connectivity Program, a long-term federal benefit that will help to lower the cost of broadband service and help low – income families to afford home internet service. Goodwill SWFL will host in-person enrollment events at all Goodwill SWFL Community Resource Centers (CRC) on June 20 and 22 from 9:00am to 5:00pm.
The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a federal benefit that aims to connect these individuals by providing eligible households with a discount of $30/month toward their home Internet bill or $75/month for households on Tribal lands. In addition, the benefit provides a one-time $100 discount toward a connected device through a participating provider. At this time, only 26% of eligible households have applied for the benefit due to a lack of awareness, lack of trust in the program, or inability to enroll due to application barriers
“High-speed home Internet allows Americans to work remotely and access educational opportunities, healthcare, job training, and critical government services,’’ said Carolyn Johnson, Sr. VP of Mission Services, Goodwill SWFL. “We are committed to closing the broadband affordability gap in SWFL so that every resident has equal access to the opportunities of the digital age.”
A key component of the plan will be the creation of a unique public-private partnership that will work to close the broadband affordability gap. A recent report from the national nonprofit, EducationSuperHighway, highlighted that approximately 28 million of the 123 million households in the United States do not have high-speed broadband. 18 million of these households, home to 47 million people, are offline because they cannot afford an available internet connection.
This broadband affordability gap is concentrated in SWFL underserved communities and disproportionately impacts people of color. Previous efforts to provide the resources households need to connect have fallen short.
The new initiative will focus on ensuring SWFL residents are aware they might be eligible for the benefit and engaging trusted community partners to support outreach. A household is eligible if one member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:
- Has an income that is at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines;
- Participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid, Federal Public Housing Assistance, SSI, WIC, or Lifeline;
- Is approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision (CEP);
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband provider’s existing low-income program; or
- Participates in one of several Tribal specific programs, such as Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance, Tribal Head Start (only households meeting the relevant income qualifying standard), Tribal TANF, or Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations.
To get started, households can call or visit one of the eight Goodwill SWFL Community Resource Centers (addresses and phone below) to see if they qualify, what documents they will need at the time of application, and to see a list of “free with ACP” home internet plans.
Goodwill Community Resource Centers (CRC)
- Bonita Springs – 11601 Bonita Beach Rd. Bonita Springs, FL 34135
- Cape Coral – 3226 Del Prado Blvd., Cape Coral, FL 33904
- Lehigh Acres- 2825 Lee Blvd., Fort Myers, FL 33971
- Tice 5100 Tice St, Fort Myers, FL, 33905
(239) 995-2106 ext. 2228
- Port Charlotte- 24123 Peachland Blvd., Port Charlotte, FL 33954
- Naples- 3759 East Tamiami Trail, Naples, FL 34112
- Clewiston- 957 West Sugarland Hwy, Clewiston, FL 33440
- Labelle- 91 Lee St., Labelle, FL 33935
Today’s White House Release