National Nonprofit Announces Bold New Mission to Close Two-thirds of the Digital Divide and Ensure No Home Goes Offline
The affordability gap for broadband
Chart showing US broadband affordability statistics.
No report left at home offline
Cover page of the report from EducationSuperHighway: No Home Left Offline.
SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 4, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — EducationSuperHighway, the national nonprofit organization that successfully connected 47 million students to close the connectivity gap in the K-12 classroom, today announced a bold new mission to bridge the digital divide for 18 million American households who have access to the Internet but cannot afford to connect.
In a new report to mark the launch of their new mission and No home links offline campaign, they emphasize that after decades of public and private investment in broadband infrastructure, affordability is now the main driver of the digital divide, despite the widespread availability of low-cost broadband options from Internet service providers. Nearly two-thirds of disconnected households have access to a broadband connection at home, but are mostly offline because they can’t afford to connect.
This “broadband affordability gap” keeps 47 million Americans offline, is present in every state, and is disproportionately impacting low-income black and Hispanic Americans.
The main highlights of the report are:
18.1 million disconnected households (46.9 million people) have internet access but cannot afford to connect with even cheap broadband plans.
In 43 states, the broadband affordability gap makes up the bulk of the digital divide, making up 58% of the digital divide in states with rural populations larger than the national average.
Previous attempts to provide households with the resources they need to connect have failed. Only 17% of Americans eligible for federal broadband affordability programs have enrolled because of awareness, trust, and enrollment barriers.
Dramatic acceleration of progress towards closing the digital divide
In response to the pandemic, a bipartisan consensus has emerged to dramatically accelerate progress towards closing the digital divide. The federal government has recognized the need to close the affordability gap by investing $20 billion in the nation’s largest-ever broadband affordability and adoption program. In addition, partnerships between nonprofits, community organizations, Internet service providers, and state and local governments have developed pioneering approaches to identifying disconnected households, innovative solutions to increase adoption, and creating programs that address the need for households to fully adhere. for broadband services, providing a blueprint for broad public-private partnership to close the affordability gap for broadband.
“We need to seize this moment to accelerate progress in closing the digital divide,” said Evan Marwell, CEO of EducationSuperHighway. “That’s why we’re launching a bold new mission today to address the broadband affordability gap – which has become the single biggest barrier to closing the digital divide. Congress is stepping up and mobilizing resources to close the affordability gap, and ISPs continue to increase the availability and speed of affordable broadband plans. We must now remove the barriers that prevent low-income families from connecting or risk wasting this opportunity to ensure that no home remains offline.”
As the transition to a digital economy is accelerated, the pandemic has left people without home broadband without economic security and opportunity. Without high-speed Internet access at home, Americans cannot send their children to school, work remotely, or access health care, vocational training, the social safety net or critical government services.
New Broadband Adoption Programs and Free Wi-Fi in Apartments
Today, EducationSuperHighway also launched new broadband adoption and free apartment Wi-Fi programs to help low-income Americans overcome the hurdles that come with signing up for federal broadband programs and home broadband services. Both programs target “America’s most disconnected communities,” where more than 25% of people do not have the Internet.
“Building a robust digital inclusion ecosystem requires free and low-cost home broadband for those who can’t afford it and overcoming the barriers to broadband adoption,” said Angela Siefer, executive director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance. (NDIA). “As we saw during the pandemic, these solutions are possible by investing in local solutions and building on the trusted community relationships that are essential for effective digital inclusion.”
EducationSuperHighway is also announcing a broad partnership with the City of Oakland to close the affordability gap in the city’s most disconnected communities. Together with community organizations and other key stakeholders, the partnership will deploy free Wi-Fi in low-income condominiums and establish a broadband adoption center to help eligible households enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program. “Public-private partnerships, exemplified by the success of #OaklandUndivided, are critical to achieving equality in cities across the country,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “Oakland is proud to partner with EducationSuperHighway, a critical leadership partner of #OaklandUndivided, to remove affordability barriers and dramatically increase broadband access for our most vulnerable populations, closing the digital divide for good.”
Identify and connect disconnected households
EducationSuperHighway is also expanding its program to help trusted institutions identify disconnected households. The organization’s K-12 Bridge to Broadband program partners with 130 regional and state Internet service providers to enable states and school districts to identify and connect disconnected student households. Covering 90% of households, the program has already helped identify the connectivity status of more than 3.5 million students in 11 states. With the support of ISPs, EducationSuperHighway hopes to make this crucial data tool available to other trusted institutions serving low-income households in the near future.
Made possible by generous support from the philanthropic community
The nonprofit completed its mission to close the connectivity gap in the K-12 classroom in just seven years and aims to repeat this feat. Several foundations and philanthropic organizations have made a $16 million multi-year investment in EducationSuperHighway’s mission, including Emerson Collective; Blue Meridian Partners; Ken Griffin, Citadel and Citadel Effects; the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative; Walton Family Foundation; and Zoom Cares Fund.
“In just seven years, EducationSuperHighway has accomplished their mission to connect every classroom to high-speed internet,” said Laurene Powell Jobs, president of Emerson Collective. “We know that Evan and his team will use the same creativity and ingenuity to deploy broadband in homes across the country, bridging the digital divide and increasing access to opportunity for all families.”
“Internet access is a gateway to opportunities. Yet 18 million American households are currently struggling to afford this vital lifeline to education, vocational training and healthcare,” said Ken Griffin, founder and CEO of Citadel. “I am proud to support EducationSuperHighway’s work to increase access for families and close the digital divide.”
“EducationSuperHighway has played a critical role in closing the digital divide, paving the way for broadband access in K-12 classrooms on an unprecedented scale,” said Jim Shelton, Chief Investment and Impact Officer at Blue Meridian Partners. “Given the need for affordable home broadband, which has become even more apparent during the pandemic, EducationSuperHighway now has the opportunity to amplify its impact and close the affordability gap in America’s most disconnected communities.”
ABOUT EDUCATIONSUPER HIGHWAY
EducationSuperHighway is a national non-profit organization on a mission to close the digital divide for the 18 million households who have access to the Internet but cannot afford to connect. We focus on America’s most disconnected communities, where over 25% of people don’t have the Internet.
From 2012-2020, we led the effort to close the connectivity gap in the classroom. In 2013, only 10% of students had access to digital learning in their classrooms. Thanks to an unprecedented bipartisan effort by federal, state, and school district leaders, supported by advocacy organizations in K-12, the classroom connectivity gap has closed: 47 million students are connected and 99.3% of U.S. schools have high-speed broadband connectivity. .
Photos accompanying this announcement are available at: