Mayor Scott, BCIT to Bring Affordable Home Internet to Baltimore Households
Thursday May 18th, 2023
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New 'Bmore Connected' Campaign Will Help Connect Thousands of Baltimore Households to High-Speed, Affordable Internet
BALTIMORE, MD. (Thursday, May 18, 2023) - Today, Mayor Brandon M. Scott announced the Bmore Connected campaign through the Baltimore City Office of Information & Technology's (BCIT) Office of Broadband & Digital Equity (BDE). Grants from The Abell Foundation and the American Rescue Plan Act, managed by the Mayor's Office of Recovery Programs, fund this community outreach and awareness initiative.
Bmore Connected aims to build awareness of the $14 billion Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program helping many low-income households pay for broadband service and internet-connected devices. Through ACP, the government pays up to $30/month directly to the internet service provider (ISP) of households enrolled in the program. In addition, the program provides a one-time discount of up to $100 toward purchasing a laptop, desktop computer, or tablet through a participating provider.
"High-speed home internet allows Baltimore residents to send their children to school and access healthcare, job training, critical government services, and work remotely,'' said Mayor Brandon M. Scott. "My administration is committed to closing the broadband affordability gap so that every resident has equal access to the opportunities of the digital age."
The digital divide is linked to poor economic and social outcomes, such as fewer job opportunities, less competitive economies, or lower student performance. In Baltimore, like comparable cities, affordability is the primary barrier to internet utilization and adoption. This portion of the digital divide-the broadband affordability gap-is most prevalent in underserved communities and disproportionately impacts communities of color.
"Simply knowing what resources are available to address the lack of digital inclusion is half the battle for Baltimore residents," said Interim Director of BCIT's Office of Broadband and Digital Equity Kenya Asli. "Through Bmore Connected, we want to ensure households know how and where to access affordable home internet for school, healthcare, work, and more."
The Bmore Connected initiative will increase awareness of the federal benefit and engage trusted community partners in citywide outreach and enrollment efforts. A household is eligible if one member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:
- Has an income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
- This includes all Baltimore City Public School Students
All Baltimore City households should visit bmoreconnected.baltimorecity.gov to check their eligibility. The national nonprofit EducationSuperHighway supports this initiative by providing tools and resources to help households enroll in ACP. EducationSuperHighway's GetACP pre-enrollment tool allows households to see if they qualify, what documents they will need at the time of application, and a list of "free with ACP" home internet plans. Residents can also call (877) 384-2575 to contact the FCC's ACP Support Center.
Once enrolled in ACP, households can also take advantage of the State-funded Maryland Emergency Broadband Benefit Program to receive an additional $15/month subsidy toward home internet service-resulting in a total benefit of up to a $45 discount each month paid directly to the enrollee's ISP. Households must be enrolled in ACP to receive this benefit and speak directly with their ISP for participation.
"Internet access should not be contingent on where you work or live in Baltimore City, and funding from the American Recovery Plan Act will help to make that goal a reality," said the Mayor's Office of Recovery Programs Chief Recovery Officer Shamiah Kerney,
The Bmore Connected initiative has also received support from Wide Angle Youth Media, Comcast®, and a host of local organizations working to close the digital divide.
About BCIT's Office of Broadband & Digital Equity
The Office of Broadband & Digital Equity (BDE), a program of the Baltimore City Office of Information & Technology, leads the City's efforts to permanently close the digital divide and serves as the Baltimore City government's primary liaison with internal and external stakeholders in digital equity. BDE envisions Baltimore as a city where residents can fully participate in the digital ecosystem, have access to devices, technical assistance, digital education, and affordable and reliable internet in the home. For more information about the City's BDE programs and initiatives, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (443) 984-9740.
About the Mayor's Office of Recovery Programs
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provided $641 million to the City of Baltimore in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency and its negative economic impacts. Mayor Brandon M. Scott established the Mayor's Office of Recovery Programs to transparently and effectively administer this funding on behalf of the City. For additional information, visit arp.baltimorecity.gov.
EducationSuperHighway is a national nonprofit with the mission to close the digital divide for the 18 million households that have access to the internet but can't afford to connect. EducationSuperHighway focuses on America's most unconnected communities, where more than 25% of people don't have internet. Learn more at EducationSuperHighway.org.
About Wide Angle Youth Media
Through media arts education, Wide Angle Youth Media cultivates and amplifies the voices of Baltimore youth to engage audiences across generational, cultural, and social divides. Wide Angle Youth Media's programs inspire creativity and instill confidence in young people, empowering them with the skills to navigate school, career, and life. Since 2000, Wide Angle Youth Media has worked with over 7,275 youths from across Baltimore City who have produced hundreds of digital media projects about their lives and communities. Learn more at www.wideanglemedia.org.