The COVID-19 pandemic created a crisis in education. School closures forced thousands of students across Maricopa County to transition to at-home learning, many of them without the proper resources such as access to computers and internet service.
As a member of the Arizona Broadband Stakeholder Network, Valley of the Sun United Way advocates for programs that help close the digital divide in our community, including the Emergency Broadband Benefit, a $3.2 billion Federal Communications Commission (FCC) initiative that provides qualifying households discounts on internet service bills and the opportunity to receive a discount on a computer or tablet.
In addition to providing a better opportunity for children to learn from home, access to reliable broadband internet will enable our community to:
- If one household member experienced a substantial loss of income since February 29, 2020:
- If one household member received a Federal Pell Grant in the current award year
- If one household member receives benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, or did so in the 2019- 2020 school year
- If one household member meets the eligibility criteria for a participating broadband Internet service provider’s EXISTING low-income or COVID-19 program
- If one household member qualifies for the Lifeline program, typically by participating in one of the following benefits:
NOTE: Households receiving the Lifeline benefit can apply for and receive discounts through the EBB Program on top of their Lifeline benefit.
- Monthly $50 discount on broadband Internet service ($75 discount on Tribal lands), per household, from a participating provider’s rate schedule, fixed on December 1, 2020.
- Discount applies to “bundled services” that include text messaging and voice mail, as well as to bundles that include modems, routers, hotspots, etc.
- Discount also applies to “bulk billing” where broadband internet service is included in monthly rent, such as for households in:
- Entities such as school districts, health care providers, assisted living or nursing facilities, and local governments can/may purchase service ‘in bulk’ for eligible households.”
Eligible households must both apply for the program and contact a participating provider to select a service plan. Find broadband service providers offering the Emergency Broadband Benefit in your state or territory. For a list of possible broadband internet providers, contact: Connect Arizona at 602-529-1519 Weekdays 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
After you received a notice that you have qualified for the program, you must contact a participating provider to select an Emergency Broadband Benefit eligible service plan. Check out the Broadband Benefit Consumer FAQ for more information about the benefit.