Faith leaders highlight importance of Affordable Connectivity Program



Faith leaders highlight importance of Affordable Connectivity Program

By Tia Carol Jones

Faith leaders are doing their part to ensure church members are informed about the Affordable Connectivity Program. Clergy members want people to be able to take advantage of the program, which could mean families who don’t have access can get access to the internet, and those that have access to the internet, can receive a discount.

The Affordable Connectivity Program is a federal program, run by the Federal Communications Commission, that enables low-income households to pay for broadband, as well as internet connected devices. Eligibility depends on income, if anyone in the household receives Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits, Medicaid, WIC, Federal Housing Assistance, or Tribal Assistance Programs. Those eligible can receive up to a $30 a month discount on internet service, a one-time discount of up to $100 for a desktop computer, laptop or tablet, or a low cost service plan that is fully covered through the Affordable Connectivity Program.


“We must sound the alarm because we feel as though if people do not take advantage of this, they will lose it,” said the Rev. Lester Sanders, Pastor of Hope Presbyterian Church.


Bishop Simon Gordon, of Triedstone Full Gospel Baptist Church, believes it is important for people to have access to the internet, especially seniors who might have to use the internet to pay their bills, as well as families who need help on their internet or phone bill.


“We need more of our people taking advantage of this. We need to make sure our community accesses this great opportunity,” Gordon said.


The Rev. Ira Acree, Pastor of Greater St. John Bible Church, wants people to take advantage of the program so the community will not be further behind, especially children who were left behind when schools switched to remote learning during the pandemic. He also believes the working poor should have access to this subsidy program.


“This is essential. Our children need it more now than ever before. We have the opportunity and ability to stop the bleeding,” Acree said.


Because it is a federally funded program, people who are eligible for ACP can receive the discount with any internet carrier they chose, or already use.


Comcast has partnered with the clergy to donate 200 laptops. It is the first of many initiatives they will be working on.  When Comcast got an opportunity to engage communities, they were ready to be part of it.


“The subsidy really addresses the affordability piece. We know that access is already met, especially in most of our markets. We know now that with the Affordable Connectivity Program that the affordability piece is met, but really those are only pieces of the puzzle,” said Carl Jones, Jr., Regional Vice President of External and Government Affairs at Comcast, adding that as things progress, and there are different needs, Comcast will figure out the right way to show up for people, whether it is with time, talent, with a focus on the right balance.


Gordon said Comcast has been leading the process to help get internet to communities and into households, because of its established relationship with the clergy and faith leaders.


For more information about ACP, visit www.affordableconnectivity.gov, or call 877-384-2575.

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