The ACP recently reached a new high of 22 million households benefitting from the program. However, those households are now all at risk of losing internet access if the program loses funding.
To help Congressional members understand the repercussions if Congress doesn’t allocate additional funds to the ACP, NDIA, and several affiliates took to The Hill the week before Thanksgiving. Affiliates and NDIA staff members spoke with over 10 senators’ and representatives’ offices.
Affiliates Visit Congressional Offices
Gina Birch, Instructor, Program Coordinator, and ASC3 West Lab Manager with the Ashbury Senior Computer Community Center (ASC3) in northeast Ohio, and Abby Russell, a digital navigator at Hocking, Athens, Perry Community Action Program (HAPCAP) in southeast Ohio, visited the offices of Senator Sherrod Brown (OH), Representative Bill Johnson (OH), and Representative Shontel Brown (OH). They highlighted the over 1.1 million Ohioans utilizing the ACP and the impact that sunsetting the program would have on their constituents.
Walter Prescher, digital navigator with Easter Seals of Greater Houston in Texas, spoke with the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, as well as Representative Jasmine Crockett’s (TX) office. They highlighted ACP’s positive impacts on veterans while also conveying the potential adverse effects the population would face if it’s shut down.
Kendall Lee-Daugherty, a digital navigator for the Cherokee Nation, spoke with the offices of Senators Markwayne Mullin (OK) and James Lankford (OK). He brought the stories from his work with the Cherokee Nation and how the ACP affects Indigenous people.
Candace Browdy, director of Connect Lake County in Illinois, spoke with Representative Darin LaHood’s (IL) office to highlight the realities of ACP and beneficiaries in Lake County. Candace felt their meeting made a significant impact.
“Rep. LaHood’s office was very interested in the stories about how affordable, reliable, and fast broadband/internet service and the lack thereof, coupled with the lack of access to devices and digital skill-building support, negatively impacted constituents. They hadn’t heard some of the things I was sharing before,” said Candace. “Getting these real-world examples of hardship in front of legislators is very impactful. I’m going to a town hall in my district (hosted by a local organization) where several state and national legislators will be. I am going armed with very specific resident stories.”
Juan Muro, Jr., executive director at Free Geek in Portland, OR, spoke with Representative Suzanne Bonamici’s (OR) and Senator Jeff Merkley’s (OR) offices. They pressed the importance of ACP connecting the 20 percent of Americans not subscribed to broadband services and the residents who would be left behind without the program.
Bruce Clark, executive director of the Center for Digital Equity in North Carolina, spoke with the offices of House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (LA), House Majority Whip Tom Emmer (MN), and Senator Thom Tillis (NC) about how digital navigators are helping to drive ACP sign-ups and why additional funding for the program is critical.
Throughout the day, NDIA affiliates and their work shined. The NDIA team is very proud of these affiliates and digital navigators for making their voices – and the voices of those they serve – heard as they continue the fight to keep ACP.