In an era where connectivity is more crucial than ever, ensuring affordable and accessible internet access has become a pressing concern. Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Affordable Connectivity Program Advocacy Day hosted by the Hispanic Federation. This event shed light on the importance of bridging the digital divide and advocating for policies that make internet access more affordable for all communities.
The Digital Divide
The digital divide refers to the gap between those who have access to modern information and communication technology, particularly the internet, and those who do not. This gap disproportionately affects marginalized communities, hindering their ability to participate fully in the digital age. Established in 2021 as a component of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act and overseen by the Federal Communications Commission, the Affordable Connectivity Program aims to reduce the financial burden on working families by lowering the costs associated with broadband service and devices.
The Urgency of Connectivity
Access to affordable and reliable internet has become a fundamental necessity in our daily lives. The pandemic highlighted the stark disparities in connectivity, with many facing challenges in remote learning, job searches, and even accessing essential healthcare services. The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) aims to address these issues by advocating for policies that make high-speed internet more accessible to underserved communities.
About the Hispanic Federation
The Hispanic Federation (HF) is the nation’s premier Latino nonprofit membership organization. Founded in 1990, HF’s mission is to empower and advance the Hispanic community, support Hispanic families, and strengthen Latinx institutions through work in the areas of education, health, immigration, civic engagement, economic empowerment, disaster relief, nonprofit capacity-building & the environment.
Advocacy in Action
The day commenced with a delightful breakfast, followed by a comprehensive Advocacy Day Training session. Participants gained insights into the historical context of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and the pivotal role they play in advocating for its objectives. Following the training, attendees assembled into state-specific groups and proceeded to Capitol Hill for the initial meeting of the day.
After our first meeting with the office of Marco Rubio, we reconvened with another group for a meeting with Senator John Fetterman of Pennsylvania. The engaging conversation centered around the Senator’s perspective on the ACP, deeming it as indispensable as basic utilities such as electricity and plumbing. Following this insightful meeting, all groups convened for a lunch break, during which attendees shared positive updates from their morning sessions.
Post-lunch, several meetings with various representatives ensued, allowing participants to articulate the significance of the ACP. As the day’s meetings concluded, the participants gathered for a celebratory rooftop dinner to commemorate the day’s triumphs.
Networking and Collaboration
Beyond the formal office meetings, the Advocacy Day offered ample opportunities for networking and collaboration. Attendees exchanged ideas, shared resources, and formed connections that will undoubtedly contribute to the ongoing fight against the digital divide. The sense of unity and shared purpose was a testament to the collective commitment to building a more connected and inclusive society.
Attending the Affordable Connectivity Program Advocacy Day hosted by the Hispanic Federation was an eye-opening experience. It highlighted the urgency of addressing the digital divide and the role that advocacy plays in shaping policies that can make a tangible difference in the lives of underserved communities. As we navigate an increasingly digital world, events like these remind us of the importance of ensuring that everyone has equal access to the opportunities that the internet provides. Bridging the digital divide is not just a policy goal; it is a commitment to creating a more inclusive and equitable society for all.