CEO Shares Connecting For Good’s Story With FCC

FEBRUARY 27, 2018

Tags: benton foundationBroadbandDigital InclusionDigital Inclusion InnovatorsFCCGovernmentLifeline Subsidy Programlow-incomeNDIAPolicyTom EsselmanWi-Fi

Invited by the National Digital Inclusion Association (NDIA) in partnership with The Benton Foundation, Tom Esselman, CEO of Connecting For Good, was in Washington, D.C. on Feb. 27 with Digital Inclusion Innovators to talk with policy makers and senators in hopes that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will reconsider its repeal of the Lifeline Subsidy Program, which has been in place since 1985. 

The Lifeline program has provided a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers to ensure that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings, including being able to connect to jobs, family and emergency services.

Tom helped to give a more detailed and personal report to the senators and policy makers on the impact Digital Inclusion Innovators and organizations have on their community. For the past 36 months, Connecting For Good (CFG) has maintained affordable broadband internet connections to a monthly average of 2,200 devices in low-income housing communities, incurring the monthly cost of this with its own operating funds. Lifeline Broadband Provider designation would enable Connecting For Good to offset these costs, and greatly expand its services to those in need throughout Kansas City. 

Since 2012, Connecting For Good has worked to empower low-income communities with digital skills to improve lives. Tom was hired in 2016 with a platform to align Connecting For Good as Kansas City, Missouri’s only organization with Digital Inclusion as its sole mission by using the city’s critical priorities of: Education, Employment, Economic Impact, the Environment and Enforcement.

By the end of 2017, CFG has provided Digital Literacy training to over 25,000 Kansas City urban core residents, built and installed over 65 Wi-Fi-enabled computer labs in low-income housing communities and local centers that cater to the needs of the families they serve. At the same time, Connecting For Good has contributed economically by helping to reduce electronic waste via refurbishing, selling and distributing over 3,000 computers to individuals and families who are considered to be living in poverty.

Tom spoke to one of our core values: Connectivity Equals Opportunity.  With CFG’s unique ability to provide all three of the pillars of Digital Inclusion—connectivity, devices, and training —Connecting For Good has focused on maintaining connections with the most vulnerable populations in the urban core. The repeal of the Lifeline Subsidy Program means CFG will be unable to expand its services beyond those already committed to.

Written by Anna Edwards

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