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Connecting Hennepin - Eliminating the Digital Divide

As part of the county's commitment to eliminate disparities and advance racial equity, we launched Connecting Hennepin, a campaign to eliminate the digital divide in Hennepin County.

On July 20, 2021, the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners allocated up to $10M in federal funding to continue its support of the Connecting Hennepin initiative. Read the full news release.

 
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The federal Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) has become Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides a discount of up to $30 per month towards internet service for eligible households. People can choose from various service plans available in their area, including options for home or mobile internet. Some plans will also include a device discount.

The Affordable Connectivity Program is limited to one monthly discount per household.

If you are currently enrolled in the former Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) program, there is no need to reapply. Existing EBB enrollees will continue receiving the $50 subsidy until March 1, 2022. Some participating internet service plans, such as Comcast Internet Essentials, will continue to be fully covered under the new program.

How to apply

There are three ways to apply:

  1. Online at ACPBenefit.org
  2. By mail (print an application at your local library)
  3. Directly with an internet service provider

For any questions, please contact the ACP support center at 877-384-2575 or by emailing ACPSupport@usac.org.

There are advantages to applying online. The online application uses the National Verifier web service to confirm if residents are currently receiving other qualifying benefits, reducing the need for supporting documentation. If it cannot automatically confirm eligibility, the applicant can supply supporting materials.

Eligibility

Many people Hennepin County works with will be eligible for this benefit. A person is eligible if anyone in their household:

  • Qualifies for the Lifeline program by receiving one one of the following benefits:
    • Medicaid
    • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP)
    • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    • Federal Public Housing Assistance (FPHA)
    • Veterans and Survivors Pension Benefit
    • Special Supplemental Nutritional Program for Women, Infants and Children (WIC)
  • Has an income at or below 200% of the Federal Poverty Guidelines
  • Has children eligible for free and reduced school lunches
    • Includes the free and reduced-price school breakfast or lunch program or through the USDA Community Eligibility Provision in the 2020-2021 or 2021-2022 school years
  • Received a Federal Pell Grant during the current award year
  • Meets the eligibility criteria for a participating providers' existing low-income program.

Service plans in Hennepin County

There are multiple internet service providers participating in Minnesota. The list below is an overview of providers who offer service in Hennepin County. Participating providers, their plans, and their service areas may change over time. Contact a provider directly to confirm their offerings. 

Fixed broadband: Services are provided to your home, or a single location. These include cable, fiber optic, DSL, and fixed wireless services.

Mobile broadband: Services are device-based and available throughout the service provider's cellular coverage area, similar to cell phone services.

Internet service provider Internet service type Device discount Available plans Service area
Comcast Home/Fixed Broadband No Comcast Internet Essentials
Qualifying customers on other plans will receive a discount
Most of Hennepin County
USI Internet Home/Fixed Broadband No   Parts of Minneapolis, St Louis Park and Minnetonka
Century Link Home/Fixed Broadband No   Most of Hennepin County
LTD Broadband Home/Fixed Broadband No   Parts of Bloomington, Eden Prairie, St Bonifacius
PCs for People Mobile Broadband Yes   Hennepin County
AT&T Mobile Broadband No Pre-paid or post-paid wireless plans including AT&T, AT&T PREPAID and Cricket Wireless. Hennepin County
Cricket wireless Mobile Broadband No Any Cricket plans Hennepin County
T Mobile Mobile Broadband Yes Any T Mobile plan. Where T Mobile's Fixed Wireless service is available, it is also eligible

Hennepin County

Boost Mobile Mobile Broadband No   Hennepin County

It is critical for our clients and residents to have access to computers and reliable broadband connectivity. The COVID-19 pandemic has magnified the need for digital access in order to participate in distance learning, engage in county services, and access virtual therapy and telehealth appointments.

This work is just the beginning of an ambitious effort and supports clients and residents in three main ways: connectivity and internet access, devices and supports to these services.

More information about the Connecting Hennepin program, what devices will be available, and how to access services, will be posted as it is available.

Results

Testimonials

One mother wrote, “I’m thankful for the laptop so that I can help my three daughters and son with school distance learning. We don’t own a personal computer, and this will be so helpful. Also, my father-in-law was recently diagnosed with cancer and we constantly have virtual appointments with his oncologist. The laptop will be most helpful...”

A woman said the laptop is a critical piece for professional training. “My current laptop freezes in the middle of my work. With this, I will be able to complete all my coursework and apply to nursing school.”

One man said, “I have been down on my luck since I’ve been let go from my job that I enjoyed tremendously. I will use this to help me obtain a job and better myself.”

By the numbers

More than 2,700 Chromebooks went to students who were distance learning.

More than 5,800 Windows laptops went to adults who were job seeking or seniors who with telehealth needs.

Hennepin County wishes to thank all the organizations who stepped up to make this a success, especially our partner PCs for People.

Due to overwhelming demand for GO Pack program, we have exhausted our supply of computers.

We will continue to advocate for the technology needs of our residents. If additional computers become available, information will be posted on this web page.

Our partner in this effort, PCs for People, specifically provides discounted technology to qualifying residents. Visit PCs for People to learn more or browse available computers at their online store.

Literacy MN provided training for staff and community partners on digital inequities and literacy. View the video.

GO Packs laptops

If you ordered a computer through this program, updates about the delivery will be sent by PCs for People to the email provided. If you requested through a partner agency, please contact them for additional information.

Get help with your computer

If you have a Hennepin County Chromebook to support distance learning and need help with technical issues or troubleshooting, contact PCs for People at 651-354-2552 or email hcsupport@pcsforpeople.org.

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