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President Announces Internet Access Program

President Obama announced plans to work with local governments, telecommunications firms and nonprofits to provide internet access and training to more than 200,000 low-income households.

The program, dubbed ConnectHome, is designed to bring residents in 28 communities online. It will be offered to HUD residents in the chosen communities.

According to the program’s website, it seeks to:

Make broadband Internet more adoptable by building new models to provide broadband infrastructure and to offer residents free or discounted service

Make broadband Internet more valuable by giving residents localized, free and culturally sensitive training in essential digital literacy skills that will allow them to effectively utilize high-speed Internet

Make broadband Internet adoption sustainable by providing devices and technical support to our residents and by refocusing existing HUD resources to supplement and sustain the work of ConnectHome

“While many middle-class U.S. students go home to Internet access, allowing them to do research, write papers, and communicate digitally with their teachers and other students, too many lower-income children go unplugged every afternoon when school ends,” the White House said. “This ‘homework gap’ runs the risk of widening the achievement gap, denying hardworking students the benefit of a technology-enriched education.”

Eight Internet service providers will provide low-cost or free broadband service to the residents. Companies and other organizations will back programs aimed at fostering digital literacy among residents and increasing their technical skills.

Best Buy plans to offer residents technical training and support. GitHub has donated $250,000 to the pilot program.

Other than a small U.S. Department of Agriculture grant, the program uses no federal money. The initiative will rely on support from corporate and nonprofit sectors, as well as local governments.

HUD will also take additional steps to make broadband a part of its assisted housing.