Can’t Afford Faster Internet? Michigan is Launching a New Effort to Help.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer speaks at a press conference in April. (Gretchen Whitmer via Facebook)

By Kyle Kaminski

June 8, 2023

Federal funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act offers lower-income families in Michigan discounts to help them pay for high-speed internet and buy new computer equipment.

MICHIGAN—A newly announced statewide campaign aims to connect more low-income Michigan families with high-speed home internet and save them some cash along the way.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Thursday announced the “Michigan ACP Act Now” initiative, which is designed to increase public awareness of the $14.2 billion in federal funding that’s available to help low-income families score discounts on their internet bills and computer purchases.

“With affordable high-speed internet available to all Michiganders, we can grow our economy, create jobs and improve healthcare and education outcomes,” Whitmer said in a statement. “These critical investments will connect homes and small businesses across Michigan, and we are committed to achieving our ambitious goal to connect every Michigan community.” 

The Affordable Connectivity Program is a federal broadband benefit secured as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (otherwise known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law), which was signed into law by President Joe Biden in November 2021.

The program offers eligible households a recurring discount of up to $30 (or up to $75 for homes on tribal land) on the cost of their monthly internet bill and a one-time, $100 discount toward a new laptop, desktop computer, or tablet.

Eligible households include those with incomes at or below 200% of the federal poverty level (roughly $29,000 or less for an individual or $60,000 or less for a family of four), as well as those who qualify for state food assistance benefits. 

But despite nearly 1.7 million Michigan households being eligible for the assistance, state officials said only about 644,000 households have enrolled for the help over the last two years. 

And there’s still a lot of cash left to go around.

“Whether for school or work, applying for jobs or paying bills, or just connecting with family and friends, internet access is an important part of all of our daily lives, and we need to do more to make sure all residents can get online, regardless of their income,” said state Sen. Sue Shink (D-Northville).  

Through the new initiative, the nonprofit organization EducationSuperHighway will develop outreach materials and other tools to encourage additional households to enroll in the program. A new multi-lingual website has also been created to assist those interested in applying for help.

“Michigan is again leading the way in closing the digital divide by ensuring eligible households know about the Affordable Connectivity Program, can easily enroll, and then sign up for high-speed internet service,” said EducationSuperHighway CEO Evan Marwell in a statement, applauding Whitmer’s “bold leadership” in removing the barriers to high-speed internet access.

Organizations that want to get involved in the new statewide initiative can also attend a webinar at 1 p.m. on June 26 to learn more. Click here to get registered and find more information.  

Added state Rep. Jim Haadsma (D-Battle Creek): “Closing the digital divide is a crucial step toward lessening socioeconomic inequalities—and this program helps move Michigan in that direction.”

READ MORE: What Michigan Has Gotten Out Of Biden’s Infrastructure Law?

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Author

  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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