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GOP VP Nominee Vance calls Republicans champions of the middle class; President Biden is isolating with Covid while sources say Schumer privately urged Biden to step aside in the 2024 election: NY bill addresses monopolies, anti-trust loopholes; ACLU of Alabama launches Project MOVE to boost voter turnout.

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Ohio Sen. JD Vance makes an 'America First' VP nomination acceptance speech. Tough national security talk papers over GOP complexities on foreign policy. Sen. Bob Menendez resigns and President Biden catches COVID.

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It's grass-cutting season and with it, rural lawn mower races, Montana's drive-thru blood project is easing shortages, rural Americans spend more on food when transportation costs are tallied, and a lack of good childcare is thwarting rural business owners.

Low-Income Utahns Lag on Broadband Access

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Friday, June 9, 2023   

Gov. Spencer Cox has announced a statewide initiative to increase awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program, which aims to get more Utahns connected to the internet.

The "ACP Act Now: Utah" initiative unites a number of stakeholders to close the broadband affordability gap. According to the governor's office, almost 350,000 Utah households are eligible for a federal discount on monthly internet service, but only 16% of them have enrolled.

Clint Cottam, executive director of the Community Action Partnership of Utah, said many are not aware of the program, which is part of the issue.

"About 65% of our unconnected households are actually because of affordability, not because of infrastructure," Cottam pointed out. "Now granted, there is still 35% that are infrastructure-related -- not getting enough providers and overcoming some of those planning barriers -- but really, it's cost affordability."

Cottam pointed out being able to connect to the internet is essential for work, school and health care needs, especially post-pandemic. He added the State of Utah is starting to better understand broadband access is as important as other utilities, and those left behind will be at a disadvantage.

Cottam acknowledged there is also a general distrust of government-sponsored programs for many rural and marginalized populations. He emphasized community action agencies can help establish trust to get more people enrolled.

He added not all populations in Utah have the confidence or skills to complete the online forms, and networks like his serve those communities. Cottam stressed nationally, people of color are disproportionately affected by lack of broadband connectivity.

"We want to make this a service that is integrated with other things that can help a family stabilize and realize greater economic security," Cottam asserted. "I want people to know it is OK to ask for help, and it is OK to get help."

He said the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes funding for Affordable Connectivity Program outreach, which should help groups already working with lower-income clients.

Disclosure: The Community Action Partnership of Utah contributes to our fund for reporting on Community Issues and Volunteering, Consumer Issues, Poverty Issues, and Social Justice. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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