One of the most proven treks out of poverty toward economic opportunity and climbing the ladder to the middle class is ensuring the impoverished have access to quality education and information by closing the digital divide between the haves and have-nots.

To that end, Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, along with Phoenix Councilwoman Laura Pastor and Maricopa County Community College Board Member Susan Bitter Smith, met at the Burton Barr Central Public Library on May 9, 2023, to tout the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP,) an instrument designed to bridge the digital divide gap between the poor who do not have access to the internet and those that do.

According to Mayor Gallego in her remarks at the library, Phoenix will receive $700,000 for outreach efforts to spread the word about the Affordable Connectivity Program. These funds would go along with the million dollars appropriated to Phoenix through the American Rescue Plan to “bring more internet connectivity to more households.” About 60 technical support staff will be hired and placed at Phoenix Public Libraries, Job and Community Centers to assist people in filling out the Connectivity applications. To those people helping connect people to high-speed internet, the Mayor thanked them for “helping us give the gift of connectivity. We know it can make a life-changing difference and we appreciate your partnership…”

The Mayor also noted that outreach efforts will also be made at local community colleges and Phoenix Public Schools as well as a 24-hour seven-day weekly call assistance center for emergencies like “a major homework deadline.”

According to a press release from Mayor Gallego’s office:

“The Affordable Connectivity Program provides a discount of up to $30/month off the cost of internet service for qualifying households. These households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from qualifying providers.”

If you live on tribal lands, you can get up to $75.00 a month.

To qualify “Arizonans with income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines ($60,000 for a family of four) are eligible for the Affordable Connectivity Program. Households can also be eligible if one or more members participate in SNAP, WIC, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, Federal Public Housing Assistance, Veterans Pension and Survivors Benefits, free or reduced-price school lunch, Federal Pell Grant, or Lifeline.”

In other noteworthy remarks at the event, Mayor Gallego said:

“We are here today to launch an aggressive new effort to close the digital divide and connect more Phoenix residents to high-speed internet. In 2023, everyone in our community deserves access to the internet: small business owners, school children, remote work, and telehealth are all vital services that are merely a link away in today’s day and age…The good news is that we have 80,000 people participating in the program. The opportunity is we think we have 100,000 who are eligible and not signed up… We are going to build on the great work that began last fall when Common Sense Media helped launch a campaign to promote the ACP and we’re going to keep trying to connect more and more individuals…”

Calling the Burton Barr Library “a palace for the people,” Chairwoman Rosenworcel offered that Mayor Gallego “is committed to closing the digital divide.”

Furthermore, she relayed:

“There was a time not long ago when we used to talk about broadband and high-speed internet as nice to have. But those days are over. It is now a need for everyone, everywhere…”

Noting the experience of the pandemic where school-age children had to journey to McDonald’s or closed libraries to access high-speed internet so they can attend online classes or maintain contact with family and friends, the Chairwoman said “We can solve these problems. They’re not impossible and now we have new tools to do that…ACP is a really big deal. It is the largest broadband affordability effort in United States History…Here in Phoenix, we’ve got 128,000 (families) of them (that need the program to stay online…) This is no longer about watching a few programs or videos online…It is about keeping up with school. It is about keeping up with health care. It is about searching for job opportunities and making sure you’re on top of the news that’s happening in your community…”

Later on social media, Mayor Gallego posted:

Chairwoman Rosenworcel also posted:

Please click here to access the Affordable Connectivity Program Arizona Page and see if you qualify for high-speed internet assistance.