Closing Philadelphia’s Digital Divide through the Affordable Connectivity Program

Students on Laptop

This week marks the White House’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Week of Action, a large-scale mobilization event to ensure that every eligible household can get connected. ACP Week of Action is bringing together organizations and leaders from all sectors to spread awareness about this program, help thousands of new households get enrolled, and tell the story of how the ACP is helping to close the digital divide for students, their families, and all Americans.

The federal government’s Affordable Connectivity Program provides eligible low-income households with a credit of up to $30 a month toward their Internet and/or mobile service. Thanks to ACP, eligible Comcast customers can get home Internet through Comcast’s Internet Essentials or Internet Essentials Plus at no cost once the federal credit is applied. Internet Essentials customers can also add a line of unlimited 5G cellular data ($45) through Xfinity Mobile for as little as $24.95/month after the ACP benefit is applied.

When the pandemic struck, this benefit was not available, so the City of Philadelphia stepped up and partnered with Comcast along with the Lenfest Foundation, Neubauer Family Foundation, Elevate215, William Penn Foundation, Fralic Family Fund, Hess Foundation, the School District of Philadelphia, select Philadelphia charter schools, and Independence Mission Schools to create PHLConnectED.

The City’s initiative to provide free Internet access to pre-K-12 families in need, PHLConnectED was a bright spot of success through the pandemic. In three years, PHLConnectED enabled more than 23,100 free Internet connections. Thanks in large part to the program, Philadelphia’s 2021 report on digital access found that 91 percent of K-12 households now have home high-speed Internet connections — up from 70 percent in 2019 as reported by the American Community Survey. This includes families like Christina Ruiz’s.

Today, PHLConnectED is evolving to help connect all eligible Philadelphia households through the ACP. Outreach to families receiving sponsored service through PHLConnectED to ensure their awareness – and to all ACP-eligible residents – will continue through the Digital Navigator program that was a part of PHLConnectED from the start. Digital Navigators at Beyond Literacy, the ExCITe Center at Drexel University, and SEAMAAC can help applicants through the entire process, guiding them through enrollment, obtaining a low-cost or free computer, and even providing troubleshooting and tech support.

This new chapter is a tremendous opportunity to apply the lessons of the past three years and see the same surge in connectivity for all households. Philadelphia residents can visit getacp.org/PHL or dial 2-1-1 to find out if they are eligible for ACP and determine next steps to apply or visit xfinity.com/acp.

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