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ED, Civic Nation Announce Campaign to Close Digital Divide

Federal officials announced expedited measures to reach the 28 million U.S. households without high-speed Internet service. Money from the new Infrastructure Law will be available to families and Pell Grant recipients.

The U.S. Department of Education and the education nonprofit Civic Nation will work with more than 300 local and national organizations to bring affordable high-speed Internet service to millions of American households as soon as possible.

The department’s new “Online For All” campaign, explained in a news release, kicks off today with a “Week of Action” in which all agencies involved will raise awareness about the digital divide and help income-eligible families get connected.

According to the release, an estimated 28 million U.S. households are without high-speed Internet access, and for most of them, the problem is not availability but cost. Funding from the federal Affordable Connectivity Program (under the recent Infrastructure Law) is available to those families. Now it’s up to the participating local organizations to inform the potential beneficiaries. Details are also available at, an online hub set up by the Federal Communications Commission.

“In our ever-expanding global community, access to the Internet can no longer be viewed as a luxury; it is a necessity for every student and family in our country,” U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten said in a public statement. “No student should have to travel to a library, coffee shop or parking lot to get connected to the Internet to do their homework or complete their college applications, and yet that is still the reality for too many students. It is vital that our students and their families have access to quality, reliable, affordable, high-speed Internet to stay connected and engaged with their schools and each other. The ‘Online For All’ campaign will help meet that need for so many.“

Participating organizations include the National Education Association, American Federation of Teachers and the National Association of Secondary School Principals. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona kicked off the Week of Action today with a virtual meeting with leaders and educators representing those organizations. The news release said he would provide them with tools needed to inform families of resources available to them and to keep students connected over the summer.

In Boston, Link Health will lead Friday’s Healthcare Day of Action event at the South End Community Center in Boston, which will feature a presentation from Veterans Affairs’ National Social Work program.

Next week, on Thursday, June 22, the AARP will host a virtual town hall meeting with White House Director of Public Engagement Steve Benjamin. His discussion will specify how older Americans can participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program, according to the news release. The public is invited to tune in by phone by calling (855) 274-9507.

The U.S. Department of Education, meanwhile, is expected to notify 5 million Pell Grant recipients that they are eligible for high-speed Internet service benefits without having to provide eligibility documentation. And Marten, the deputy secretary of education, has been tapped to communicate with 84,000 school principals and technology coordinators, according to the news release.

Civic Nation, the nonprofit agency that is partnering with the education department in this federal program, recently reported on outreach efforts regarding connectivity in a pilot program from December 2022 to February 2023. That document noted strong participation, almost 40,000 people, in South Dakota, Texas, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Those communities are among many across the country that are eligible for a share of the $60 million that will become available this summer through the FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Outreach Grants.

“Through Online For All, Civic Nation is bringing together more than 300 local and national organizations across the country to ensure the 17 million households that are unconnected, but are eligible for the ACP, have access to high-speed Internet — because online is for all of us,” Jalakoi Solomon, Civic Nation executive vice president of campaigns and partnerships, said in a public statement. “Civic Nation is committed to ensuring everyone can get connected so more young people can access critical learning opportunities, more seniors can access health care faster and easier, and more Americans can find higher paying jobs and opportunities to work from home.”