Photo: ACP Enrollment
Photo: ACP Enrollment
Photo: ACP Enrollment
Photo: STUG representative preparing and fixing recycled devices
The Gap

MAY 2023 – PRESENT

The Gap

The Purpose

Digital technology affords people an evolving assortment of avenues to connect with one another and the world around us, creating pathways to the resources and relationships we depend on to maintain our well-being and lay the bedrock for a more inclusive society. However, those without access to digital connections or devices fall behind in connecting with vital services and participating in the modern world. Strengthening digital access among people of all ages and backgrounds — especially those from asset-limited families — helps ensure everyone is included in our journey toward these new realities and benefiting from the many advancements. A promising opportunity to strengthen digital access is through the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which helps ensure households can afford the broadband they need for work, school, healthcare, and more. ACP is a benefit that provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

Strengthening the Impact

Through The Gap, part of the Digital Access for All initiative, The Patterson Foundation creates opportunities for eligible asset-limited families and individuals to enroll in the ACP program and benefit from low-cost internet and devices to foster inclusion and well-being — closing this enrollment gap.


DIGITAL NAVIGATION ASSISTANCE

Agency NameDigital Navigator SupervisorContact InformationWebsite
Goodwill Manasota Margie Genter margie@gimi.org
Main Phone: 941-355-2721
www.experiencegoodwill.org
  Jill Shroyer jill.shroyer@gimi.org
Phone: 941-355-2721, x190
  Jessica Pineda

jessica.pineda@gimi.org
941-355-2721 x232

   

DeSoto County Office Main Phone: (863) 491-1445

Women's Resource Center Brent Giangregorio BGiangregorio@mywrc.org
Main Phone: 941-727-6797
Address: 1926 Manatee Ave W
Bradenton, FL 34205
www.mywrc.org
UnidosNOW Lucero Guzman lucero@unidosnow.org
Main Phone: 941-256-0625
Address: The Glasser/Schoenbaum Human Services Center - 1750 17th Street, Sarasota, FL 34234
Building C2
www.unidosnow.org
Easterseals SWFL Shantel Escobar sescobar@easterseals-swfl.org
Main Phone: 941-355-7637
Address: 350 Braden Ave.
Sarasota, FL 34243
www.easterseals-swfl.org
FUNducation Inc Neirda Thompson-Pemberton funducation@outlook.com
Main Phone: 941-281-5813
www.funducation.org
Goodwill SWFL Angela Hemstreet angelahemstreet@goodwillswfl.org
Office: 941-255-3884
Cell: 239-823-9158
goodwillswfl.org
CareerSource Suncoast Anthony Gagliano agagliano@careersourcesc.com
Bradenton Center Phone: (941) 358-4200
Sarasota Career Center: (941) 358-4200
careersourcesuncoast.com
Multicultural Health Institute Bonnie Hardy-Ramsaeur ladymaghony.bh@gmail.com
Tel: 941-706-3362
the-mhi.org
  Darlene Brown bdarlene742@gmail.com
Tel: 941-706-3362
the-mhi.org
  Angela Miles holy1957@gmail.com
Tel: 941-706-3362
the-mhi.org

FAQ's

Click on frequently asked questions below to learn more about this initiative...

What is The Gap?

An ever-widening gap exists between individuals and families connected with the three essential elements of digital access and those who are not. The three essential elements of digital access are:
  • Connectivity: The ability to connect to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet
  • Devices: Possessing the right device for one’s needs
  • Digital Skills Training and Support: Having access to the necessary training and support to use devices and programs effectively while solving technical issues when they arise
Through the Digital Access for All team’s in-depth research and interviews with national thought-leaders in the digital access arena, we have learned that all three elements need to be present and work together for digital access for all to be achieved.

To optimize and amplify impact, The Patterson Foundation will continue to engage with community members to support closing digital access gaps related to connectivity, devices, and skill/support.

Why is The Gap evolving?

In early May 2023, the Gap was established to bridge the eligibility and enrollment gap of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Using a proficient team of trained ACP Engagers and leveraging digital navigation, TPF successfully raised awareness of the ACP through strategic outreach efforts, encouraging internet adoption and enrolling eligible households. In October 2023, phase two of The Gap was initiated by training five TPFers as digital navigators.

However, in early 2024, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) announced that ACP applications and enrollments would no longer be accepted after February 7, 2024. Without additional funding from Congress, the allocated $14.2 billion for the ACP is projected to be depleted by April 2024. Consequently, the FCC has commenced the process of winding down the ACP.

To further empower individuals in the Suncoast region, The Gap will shift its focus from bridging the gap between ACP eligibility and enrollment to addressing the digital access disparities among those who have affordable internet, devices, and skill support and those who do not.

Why does The Patterson Foundation support closing The Gap?

The Patterson Foundation strengthens the efforts of people, organizations, and communities by focusing on issues that address common aspirations and foster wide participation. Digital access has emerged as a basic necessity to connect to a variety of vital services that have increasingly shifted to an online format, including those related to education, health, and employment — a necessity that many asset-limited families and communities struggle to acquire. It’s more important than ever for community members to be able to connect digitally to vital services and participate in modern society.

How is The Patterson Foundation helping to close The Gap?

To maximize and enhance impact, The Patterson Foundation is shifting the focus of The Gap program from solely addressing ACP enrollment to closing digital access gaps in connectivity, devices, and skill/support within the Suncoast region.

The Patterson Foundation uses a multi-sector approach, engaging people, businesses, nonprofits, government, and media. The goal is to drive collective efforts to close this gap by fostering wide collaboration. Initiatives, including Digital Access for All, Aspirations to Actions, and the Suncoast Campaign for Grade-Level Reading, leverage resources and build relationships based on trust to find innovative ways to connect with community members, generate awareness, and increase connectivity, devices, and skill training options locally and nationally. Tapping into the Foundation's Digital Navigator network, interested and eligible households will receive assistance obtaining one or more of these essential options.

What is the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP)?

In 2021, Congress established the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, appropriating $14.2 billion. ACP helps connect families and households struggling to afford internet service. The benefit allows participating Internet Service Providers to offer a discount of up to $30 for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Eligible households can also receive a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet from participating providers if they contribute more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase price.

2024 ACP Status: Without additional funding from Congress, the allotted $14.2 billion to fund the ACP is projected to run out in April 2024. Because of the program's wind-down, the ACP must stop new enrollments. Starting February 8, 2024, no new enrollments will be accepted. After the ACP funds run out (projected in April 2024), households participating in the ACP will no longer receive the ACP discounts. Learn more here.

What is the Digital Access status in our four-county region?

Whether at the local, regional, or national level, the main barriers to digital access for asset-limited families and communities revolve around four key factors: access, adoption, affordability, and awareness. In our region, thousands of people lack connection to one or more of the three fundamental elements, as illustrated in the table below.

Digital Access in the Suncoast

Although these numbers demonstrate that thousands of households within the four-county region are connected, it does not account for the following three things:
  1. Connectivity is the ability to connect to affordable and reliable high-speed internet. Within this network, households face the challenge of balancing the cost of their monthly internet connection with their essential needs. The service they pay for is often unreliable, hindering their capacity to work and learn remotely.
  2. Device sharing is common among households. Sharing devices within a household poses a challenge for families. While most households possess at least one device, it often needs to be shared among multiple family members. Unfortunately, this can restrict each member's capacity to utilize the internet meaningfully.
  3. Having a smartphone is not enough. To connect and participate effectively in the online world, it is crucial to have the appropriate devices tailored to specific requirements. A laptop, desktop, or tablet are essential tools, whereas relying solely on a smartphone falls short. Despite the intelligence of modern smartphones, they cannot support remote learning, remote work, or the application process for social services.
The highlighted disparity mentioned in the table is cause for concern, as it affects crucial aspects such as education, employment, healthcare, and other vital services for our youth and job seekers. Recognizing this, The Patterson Foundation's Digital Access for All initiative is dedicated to closing this gap through The Gap endeavor.

How can eligible households learn more affordable connectivity, device, and skills training options?

Organizations participating in The Patterson Foundation’s Digital Navigator Program are trained to connect community members with access to low-cost home internet service, an affordable computing device, and foundational digital literacy training based on their specific needs. The following organizations have participated in the Program:
These organizations offer free assistance to households looking to explore their options..

Who can I contact about The Gap?

For more information, contact Digital Access for All initiative lead Cheri Coryea: ccoryea@thepattersonfoundation.org.
Glimpse experiences from past program participants and learn about the impact of embedding digital navigation into their organization’s daily work and culture.
(total time: 5 minutes)


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