As part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) was created to provide low-income households with $30 per month offset their internet bills and a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop, or tablet computer from participating providers. To get the word out about the program, Common Sense Media, a nonprofit advocacy organization, launched a 12-week awareness pilot campaign in Phoenix, Arizona targeting educators and parents of school-age children.
Common Sense, through a partnership with the Digital Equity Institute, turned Arizona State University‘s internal tech-support helpline into an enrollment support service for the wider Phoenix community to help families navigate the ACP application process and get them connected to the internet.
Beginning in 2022, Common Sense distributed information about the ACP throughout Phoenix-area public schools, communities, and parent liaison networks. The campaign included bilingual public service announcements across local television and radio stations, digital and outdoor ads, grassroots outreach, and a hotline to support enrollment. Consumers were directed to call a toll-free number or visit Common Sense’s getmyinternet.org website, where information and eligibility requirements about the ACP are available in both English and Spanish.
“To bring Phoenix’s unserved and underserved families online and equip them with the skills needed to thrive in a world of media and tech was an exciting and rewarding opportunity,” said Danny Weiss, Chief Advocacy Officer for Common Sense Media.
For example, Lia Larson, a Phoenix-area mom, had struggled to homeschool her children due to her home’s slow internet connection – a phone hotspot – and a single tablet split among her four kids. But thanks to Common Sense’s awareness campaign, Lia was able to sign up for the ACP discount to get faster, more reliable home internet service and obtain a tablet for each of her children.
Alongside the media campaign, Common Sense provided families with digital literacy resources and guidance on navigating the internet in a healthy and safe way.
Since the campaign’s launch in August 2022, Common Sense has reached more than 8,500 individuals and families, and counting. The multilingual call center run by Common Sense’s partners, ASU and the Digital Equity Institute, received more than 1,600 calls during the 12-week pilot period. This campaign demonstrated the positive impact a multi-pronged approach can have when organizations and community leaders come together to bridge the digital divide for youth.