Contributed by: Ben Treviño, Cohort VI
The Code for America Network is made up of technologists, advocates, and organizers who work to break down barriers and help people access services and meet local needs. As the interim senior program director for the Network, I get excited about opportunities for our volunteers to have direct impact in communities all across the country. We think we have a huge opportunity with the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
Many of us may be familiar with the work of the Hawaiʻi Broadband Hui. Several Fellows came together to organize the Kuauli Digital Opportunities Initiative in partnership with the Broadband Hui. Digital equity and broadband access are more important than ever.
The Code for America Network is taking steps to recognize broadband benefits as essential safety net services for low-income individuals and families–just as SNAP, Cash, and Childcare Assistance (all services that Code for America’s technology amplifies) are. This is exciting for civic tech volunteers who understand better than most how impactful and transformative broadband access can be.
The ACP is a benefit that low income families can claim that will subsidize (or even completely eliminate) their telecommunications bill. One of the great things about the ACP is that households are automatically eligible if any members are already qualified for a variety of other benefits.
What can volunteers do to help families access broadband?
- State-by-state ACP Provider Audits: The Network’s volunteers and partners can apply human-centered technology standards to evaluate provider experience and create a trusted resource to support families in navigating a complex ecosystem of services, providers, benefits, and technology.
- Distributed Qualitative Research: The Network’s volunteers and partners can lift up the diverse voices of families in their own communities who are impacted by the digital divide. The output of a distributed research effort conducted at this scale and depth, would be a uniquely textured expression of the role of technology in our communities.
- Frontline Organization Partnership Workshop: The Network’s volunteers and partners can seek to work with the FCC to shape their outreach grants program (anticipated to be offered in 2023) to be more inclusive, more equitable, and more effective for closing the eligibility gap and serving hard-to-reach populations. Brigades can then partner with frontline organizations to strengthen their applications and bring funding and capacity to their communities and local organizations.
Interested or want to learn more? Contact me at the link below.