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LRSD Joins City of Little Rock for Joint Broadband Announcement
News Release from City of Little Rock
Residents Encouraged to Apply for Federal Emergency Broadband Benefit
Community Centers, Library Branches to Serve as Enrollment Sites
(LITTLE ROCK - September 30, 2021)— On Thursday at the Southwest Community Center, the City of Little Rock, Little Rock School District (LRSD), Central Arkansas Library System (CALS), and the nonprofit Heartland Forward announced its partnership to increase awareness about and enrollment in the Emergency Broadband Benefit, a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) program. The temporary credits will help to lower the cost of broadband service for eligible households during the on-going COVID-19 pandemic. Residents can learn about eligibility and enroll by visiting littlerock.gov/covid19 and clicking on emergency broadband.
The Emergency Broadband Benefit includes a $50 monthly credit and $100 toward the purchase of a computer, laptop, or tablet if the household contributes more than $10 and less than $50 toward the purchase through a participating broadband provider. A household is eligible if one member of the household meets at least one of the criteria below:
- Has an income that is at or below 135% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines or participates in certain assistance programs, such as SNAP, Medicaid or the FCC’s Lifeline program;
- Approved to receive benefits under the free and reduced-price school lunch program or the school breakfast program, including through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision, in the 2019-2020, 2020-2021, or 2021-2022 school year;
- Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year;
- Experienced a substantial loss of income through job loss or furlough since February 29, 2020 and the household had a total income in 2020 at or below $99,000 for single filers and $198,000 for joint filers; or
- Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating provider’s existing low-income or COVID-19 program.
“Despite broadband access being available across almost the entire city, we still have a digital divide because of affordability, so digital inequity is not just a rural issue in our state, it is also an urban issue,” Mayor Frank Scott said. “There are families in Little Rock which lack access to broadband service because of the cost, and I am grateful to our partners in this comprehensive outreach campaign as we work to get more families connected.”
“We know that as kids go and do their work, some are in-person… some are virtual, but even if you are in-person the learning should never stop when you go home. Kids should be excited to continue their studies and be engaged, and they need that broadband,” LRSD Supt. Mike Poore said. “It’s not just enough for us to give hot spots. It’s not just enough to give laptops. We’ve got to create a bigger blanket of support for all of our students.”
“We are excited to work with Mayor Scott to close the digital divide in Little Rock by adding capacity through an American Connection Corps fellow and helping support her work to promote digital equity," said Angie Cooper, chief program officer for Heartland Forward. "The federal Emergency Broadband Benefit provides a fantastic opportunity to help those who are not connected at home because of the cost. But it can only make a difference if eligible families know about it and sign up.”
The City’s community centers and CALS branches will serve as enrollment sites for those who are unable to access the online application. LRSD will utilize its community schools feeding program to include flyers in the food backpacks of every student so that parents will receive the eligibility information and how to apply. An advertising campaign on radio in both English and Spanish language, sponsored by Heartland Forward, will also launch in October to increase the number of residents taking advantage of the credit.