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Cleveland Among 28 Communities Selected for New White House Initiative, ConnectHome
Building off of the ConnectED initiative, President Obama announced today “ConnectHome,” a new public-private initiative with the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), EveryoneOn, and US Ignite to expand high-speed broadband to low-income households. Through the program, Internet Service Providers, non-profits, and private sector organizations will collaborate to offer low-cost broadband, technical training, digital skills programs, and devices for residents in assisted housing units. The White House estimates that the program will initially impact over 275,000 low-income households and nearly 200,000 children.
Cleveland, Ohio, is one of the twenty-seven cities and one tribal nation selected to participate in the program. According to the ConnectHome fact sheet, these communities were chosen by HUD through a competitive process that included an evaluation of the local commitment to expanding broadband opportunities and presence of place-based programs.
Among the $70 million in private sector contributions to the program:
- Google has pledged to offer residents of public housing communities free monthly Google Fiber service in cities in which it is available.
- CenturyLink has pledged to expand low-income broadband options to HUD households across its coverage footprint via its Internet Basics program, which includes connectivity for $9.95 per month for the first year and $14.95 per month for the following four years.
- Best Buy will offer HUD residents in select cities computer training and technical support.
- GitHub will provide $250,000 to support devices and digital literacy training to HUD residents.
According to a White House statement regarding the program, “[w]hile many middle-class U.S. students go home to Internet access, allowing them to do research, write papers, and communicate digitally with their teachers and other students, too many lower-income children go unplugged every afternoon when school ends.” Connect Ohio’s research echoes this need – less than half of low-income families in Ohio adopt broadband at home (48%), compared to the state average of 72%. As shared in our previous blog, and echoed in the ConnectHome fact sheet, this adoption gap perpetuates the “homework gap.”
Connect Ohio and our parent, Connected Nation, have continually voiced support for off-campus, at-home Internet for students. As stated by Connected Nation in its previous comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), “[s]tudents, regardless of family circumstance, need the ability to access and utilize educational technology and applications both on school premises and beyond school grounds – at home, in the library, and wherever else they choose to do homework.”
Aligning with comments submitted to the Broadband Opportunity Council, HUD also plans to begin rulemaking that would require new, agency-funded and substantial rehabilitation construction projects to support broadband Internet connectivity.