CYC 2.0 partners support FCC Lifeline reform initiative

CYC 2.0 Director Bill Callahan and several CYC partner groups posted statements of support today for FCC Chairman Wheeler’s proposal to go forward with Lifeline reform that could add Internet service to the low-income phone program.

Here are a few of the statements from CYC posted at the National Digital Inclusion Alliance website:

Bill Callahan, CYC: “… According to 2013 Census data, more than a third of all households in Cleveland and Detroit still have no home Internet access of any kind — not even mobile or dialup. Most are low-income; for households with incomes below $20,000 the ‘disconnected’ percentage is above 50%. This is a huge obstacle not just for the households themselves, but for our government, healthcare, education, banking, human services and civic-sector institutions who need to engage online with all our neighbors.” 

Wanda Davis, Ashbury Senior Computer Community Center“…Our mission is to bridge the gap in the ‘Digital Divide’ thus fostering a movement of “Digital Inclusion” in our inner-city communities by providing high quality, accessible, and free technology classes in a supportive, appropriately-paced, and nurturing environment.  The modernization of the Lifeline Program is essential to our community’s growth and will enhance the quality of life for all our community members.”

Dan McLaughlin, Seeds of Literacy“Seeds of Literacy is an adult literacy program providing basic education and GED preparation free of charge to people in greater Cleveland. Because the GED examination is now offered only by computer, our students must be comfortable with online operations to take it successfully. Since the majority of our students are low-income — in a city where more than half of low-income households have no home Internet access — digital illiteracy and the cost of broadband are often significant barriers to their success.  An opportunity for truly affordable high-speed Internet access through the Lifeline program could go a long way toward removing those barriers.”

Deborah Fisher, Focus:HOPE“Focus:HOPE is a civil and human rights organization, working to bridge the racial divide in Detroit and southeast Michigan through our food program, career training programs, and comprehensive community change initiative (the HOPE Village Initiative). Between 2010 and 2013 our BTOP-supported Connect Your Community program helped over five thousand households gain desperately needed access to broadband. But according to the Census, four out of ten Detroit homes still lacked any kind of Internet access in 2013… and we know from experience that the cost of broadband service remains the key barrier.  A truly affordable broadband Internet option through the Lifeline program could make a critical difference in our neighbors’ chances for employment, education, better health care and the other building blocks of family self-sufficiency.”

Patrick Gossman, Community Telecommunications Network: “… Our largest project has worked to get broadband into the homes of low-income households for which numerous barricades exist. One of those hurdles is the cost of home broadband access. According to Pew Research, low-income homes with children are four times more likely to be without broadband than their middle or upper-income counterparts. This is the ‘homework gap’ which needs to be resolved to give these children a better chance to learn and compete in the modern world. Reducing the cost of access is one important step necessary to address this problem.”

Cleveland Ward 14 City Councilman Brian Cummins, a CYC supporter, also weighed in: “As an elected Member of Cleveland City Council, I represent some 25,000 residents in the City of Cleveland, the majority of whom live in households with incomes well below the national median. Recent Census and FCC data suggest that up to half of my constituents still lack home internet access. This is a serious barrier to our community’s economic and educational progress and it isolates many of our poorer citizens from day-to-day civic and community activities, which increasingly depend on online communication. For the last two years I’ve supported a community technology training center and other digital inclusion initiatives, but the cost of home broadband remains a major problem for participants. A truly affordable broadband option added to the Lifeline program could make a very big difference for the people I represent.”