Up to 10,000 Sacramento households affected by the pandemic, particularly low-income households with children and seniors, can now apply to receive free broadband access through a new pilot program launched by the City of Sacramento and United Way California Capital Region.
Funded through the federal CARES Act, the Digital Equity program will also provide free computers for up to 1,000 households as well as digital literacy training on how to use the technology.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately affected our low-income communities and made it even more crucial that we close the digital divide,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg. “Providing reliable internet access to families in Sacramento means more children can learn and more adults can work or take advantage of education and retraining that will help them succeed in today’s job market.”
“The pandemic has brought the digital inequities in our community to the forefront, and I am happy to see our city working to provide residents with access to internet and computers to be able to learn, work and stay connected with others,” said Mayor Pro Tem Angelique Ashby. “This program will help close these digital gaps by providing equipment, connection and digital literacy to those most in need.”
Participating households will receive broadband at no cost through December and will be offered service through the Comcast Internet Essentials program at a discounted rate after that. Eligible households will receive refurbished Dell Chromebooks.
The program will contract with community-based nonprofits and school districts to provide outreach, identify households in need and house “digital champions” who will work on outreach, case management and training in targeted geographic areas. Digital champions are community residents with technology skill sets who are trained to help households with broadband application and provide basic digital literacy education.
“We are honored to partner with the city to provide Sacramento residents in need with equal access to the technology necessary to succeed during the pandemic,” said Stephanie Bray, president and CEO, United Way California Capital Region. “This project is an important element of United Way’s Square One Project that is working to make sure families have the tools and resources they need so kids can graduate from high school ready for success in college or career. There is no doubt that internet access and technology will play an increasingly vital role in kids’ success in school.”
To qualify, an applicant must be a City of Sacramento resident and eligible for public assistance programs such as the National School Lunch Program, Medicaid or WIC.
To apply and learn more, call 211 or visit sacramentocovidrelief.org/digital.