Program to help families access affordable internet in South Dakota

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) – In 2021, the Federal Communications Commission launched the Affordable Connection Program to help American families access affordable broadband. Two years later, enrollment numbers are still low across the country, including South Dakota.

“The enrollment rate in South Dakota is 11 percent,” Tanisa Islam, executive director of South Dakota Voices for Peace, told KELOLAND News Wednesday.

for this reason South Dakota Voices for Peace A grant through the Civic Nation is used to help enroll people in Sioux Falls in the Affordable Connection Program (ACP) that provides eligible families with a $30 discount on monthly internet bills, $75 on tribal lands, and a one-time discount of $100 per household. .

“There was a study done here in Sioux Falls, in terms of access to internet devices and digital literacy. And what we found in general, is that for low-income families, there is a very wide gap between them and the rest of our society in terms of access to the internet, as well as devices,” Islam said.

It’s no secret that access to the Internet is essential for almost every access to modern day-to-day life. But Islam noted that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted disparities within societies when it comes to access.

“You know, we’ve heard the stories of kids who had to go to online learning — because schools closed — in the McDonald’s parking lot because they didn’t have internet at home. That’s why we’re really trying to do justice,” Islam said.

South Dakota Voices for Peace hopes that by enrolling individuals in the program, it will help access news, jobs, online learning modules, and other information that was previously difficult to access for low-income families.

While more rural areas of South Dakota may struggle to access broadband internet, Islam said the problem in Sioux Falls is not access but affordability. Outreach coordinator Salia Ali said the nonprofit recently helped a woman get into the program after she could no longer afford Internet access after suffering a workplace injury, which kept her from working.

“She was really grateful that she wanted to go take CNA classes, and she found out that a lot of those programs require computer literacy. And so she’s excited about having access to the Internet at home. So, she can be computer literate and attend those classes,” Ali said.

How do I register?

Program eligibility includes individuals, or their dependents, who participate in assistance programs such as Medicaid, WIC, or SNAP, qualify for free or reduced price lunch programs, or attend CPE schools. The goal is to enroll 100 eligible households in the ACP over the next month with an emphasis on the multilingual population.

To record, South Dakota Voices for Peace will be at the Downtown Library in Sioux Falls every Thursday from 4-8pm and Sundays from 1-5pm, on Fridays they’ll be at Caminando Juntos from 12-4pm and Kid Link at Terry Ridlin and Laura B. Anderson Every Tuesday from 5-6 p.m. There will also be additional hours at the Falls Community Health clinic downtown on January 24 and January 31 as well as the downtown clinic on January 25 and February 8.

Variety of locations and times to accommodate many different types of work schedules.

“Yeah, we’ve made it clear, a lot of people, you know, they might work all week, particularly a lot of them, Smithfield employees only get Sundays off. So we came up with a way to make that day more affordable for people. And then, like, Fridays Just being very deliberate to make sure we pick a variety of different times to ensure we’re as accessible as possible,” Ali said.

while you can Register directly through the ACP websiteSouth Dakota Voices for Peace offers pop-up clinics to ease the process for individuals who may need assistance across barriers of language and technology.

“So, they are really there to walk hand in hand with the community members to make sure everything is done right,” Islam said.

If you cannot establish the pop-up clinics or hours of operation, you may contact South Dakota Voices for Peace at 605-610-9239 or Make an appointment online.

The non-profit organization will also host “Paper the Town” event On Martin Luther King Jr. Day. They invite community members to help hang flyers promoting the program around town.

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