Heartland Forward partnered with the FCC, American Library Association and state and regional library systems to equip library staff to answer questions and assist the public in enrolling for the federal Emergency Broadband Benefit
Bentonville, Ark. – Today, Heartland Forward held a free virtual webinar and training session with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to help educate frontline library staff on how they can empower patrons to participate in the Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program. More than 550 library professionals signed up for the webinar, hosted in collaboration with the American Library Association, to learn about EBB eligibility and the enrollment process so they can help get eligible households connected.
“This is an all-hands on deck moment to get as many families as possible connected to affordable internet, and Heartland Forward is thrilled to play a role in helping libraries across the country get their eligible patrons enrolled in the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program,” said Angie Cooper, chief program officer of Heartland Forward. “Libraries are trusted institutions within communities across the country, and serve as a hub for information and connectivity for millions of families. We’re proud to join forces with the FCC and American Library Association in this effort.”
The EBB program utilizes federal COVID-19 relief funding to provide eligible households discounts of up to $50 a month on home internet service, making the service more affordable and accessible for qualifying low-income families. The program also offers a $100 discount towards the purchase of a laptop, computer or tablet from a participating provider.
“Too many families across the country don’t have access to the internet, putting them at a major disadvantage for work, school, healthcare and more. The Emergency Broadband Benefit is a crucial way to get people connected, and libraries are an important part of our effort to enroll eligible families,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “We’re grateful for all our partners who are working to raise awareness about this important program and are thankful to organizations like Heartland Forward for hosting this webinar today. Working together we can reach more families in need of this help to get online.”
“Library staff have a front-row seat to the repercussions of the digital divide as so many Americans rely on libraries for connectivity and digital skills building,” said Patty Wong, president of the American Library Association (ALA), the foremost national organization supporting library and information professionals. “ALA asserts broadband as a human right and actively advocates for digital opportunity with and through our nation’s libraries. We are pleased to work with Heartland Forward to engage and support libraries in promoting affordable home internet access.”
A household is eligible for the program if one member of the household meets at least one of the following criteria:
- has an income that is at or below 135 percent of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid or the FCC’s Lifeline program;
- approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch or breakfast program;
- received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
- experienced a substantial loss of income through job loss or furlough since Feb. 29, 2020; or
- meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
Those eligible can enroll in the program in several different ways. If they do not have access to the internet, they can sign up through a participating broadband provider or by calling (833) 511-0311 between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. any day of the week to request a mail-in application and more information about the program. If they do have access to the internet, they can apply online at getemergencybroadband.org. Additional information about the EBB is available at www.fcc.gov/broadbandbenefit, and at schools, libraries, healthcare facilities and employment service centers throughout the state. Awareness materials have also been shared with community organizations that serve individuals and families who qualify for the program.
Heartland Forward is promoting EBB program awareness as part of its three-year Connecting the Heartland initiative focused on ensuring families and businesses across America’s heartland have access to affordable, reliable high-speed internet service, with initial efforts in Illinois, Arkansas, Ohio and Tennessee.
Heartland Forward: Lara Sisselman, firstname.lastname@example.org