This week, National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) encouraged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to involve trusted community organizations in outreach efforts for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

NDIA submitted comments to the FCC regarding the implementation of an ACP outreach grant program and a pilot program focused on promoting ACP enrollment among households participating in Federal Public Housing Assistance programs.

In addition to the $14.2 billion Congress provided to the FCC for the ACP through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), Congress also provided the FCC the authority to provide grants to community based organizations for ACP outreach and engagement. 

But the FCC has never provided grants like this before. So, when the FCC released the rules for the ACP program on January 21, they simultaneously released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) in the same document, asking for additional input on how they should best design and manage an outreach grant program. In the NPRM, the FCC also seeks additional feedback on a pilot program they plan to launch to increase ACP enrollment amongst Federal Public Housing Authority residents. 

NDIA submitted comments advising the FCC on best practices regarding the implementation of these two programs. You can view NDIA’s full comments here and a summary of our main priorities for the FCC below:

Comments on an ACP outreach grant program:

  • NDIA urged the Commission to establish an accessible, competitive, and flexible application process and technical assistance system for the outreach grant program to ensure that small trusted community based organizations can benefit from the program. 
  • NDIA urged the Commission to give priority to applicants with prior and proven experience providing digital inclusion programming to populations and communities less likely to be connected.
  • NDIA urged the Commission to target funds to support high-touch, holistic digital inclusion programs that address additional barriers to broadband adoption and personalized enrollment support through actions including street teams, door knocking, and tabling at events or areas with heavy foot traffic like schools, libraries, etc.
  • NDIA urged the Commission to allow the grant program to cover a wide range of costs including personnel, the creation of outreach materials, advertising, translation services, event costs including food and physical supplies, equipment for in-person enrollment, travel, and administrative functions. 
  • NDIA urged the Commission to provide outreach grantees and others with training and technical assistance on how to navigate the pain points and obstacles a consumer may encounter while enrolling in ACP. 

Comments on a Pilot Program to promote ACP enrollment amongst Federal Public Housing Assistance Program beneficiaries:

  • NDIA urged the Commission to partner with trusted, community-based organizations and local FPHA residential leaders in ACP outreach to FPHA beneficiaries.
  • NDIA urged the Commission to consider the prominent pain point that exists between internet service providers and FPHA beneficiaries in the ACP enrollment process as the Commission builds out this pilot. 
  • NDIA urged the Commission to provide funding for ACP enrollment events for FPHA beneficiaries, especially for events involving trusted community partners.
  • NDIA urged the Commission to encourage partner agencies to establish on-site assistance locations where eligible FPHA household members can complete and submit an ACP application.