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Urging the Federal Communications Commission to Modernize the Lifeline Program to Address the Homework Gap

WHEREAS, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) has long supported policies that help to close the digital divide and make it easier for low-income households with school-age children to have access to broadband Internet; and

WHEREAS, nearly all students receive homework requiring access to the Internet for its completion; and

WHEREAS, minority and low-income students are at a disadvantage without online access in order to do school work; and

WHEREAS, a 2015 Pew Research Center analysis of Census data found that the lowest-income households have the lowest home broadband subscription rates and that 31.4% of households with an annual income under $50,000 do not have a high-speed internet connection at home; and

WHEREAS, the Pew Research Center's analysis of Census data also found that there are 29 million households with school-age children nationwide and approximately 5 million of those households do not have high-speed internet service at home; and

WHEREAS, low-income households – and especially Black and Hispanic ones – make up 31.4% of that 5 million; African American households make up 38.6% and Hispanic households make up 37.4%; and

WHEREAS, as of 2015, approximately one-third (31.4%) of households whose incomes fall below $50,000 and with children ages 6 to 17 do not have a high-speed internet connection at home; and

WHEREAS, for many low-income students, wireless broadband is their only means of access to the Internet; and

WHEREAS, the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) Lifeline Program, begun during the Reagan Administration, provides a discount on phone service for qualifying low-income consumers to ensure that all Americans have the opportunities and security that phone service brings; and

WHEREAS, the FCC has initiated a rule-making process to overhaul the Lifeline Program, an initiative that subsidizes telephone subscriptions for low-income households, so that it would also cover broadband.

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the NAACP urges the FCC to modernize its Lifeline Program to allow participants to choose between applying the same support to either voice or broadband Internet service; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the NAACP urges the FCC to make spectrum for wireless broadband more readily available, thereby ensuring that there will be more opportunities for students to get their online schoolwork done; and

Be it further resolved, that the NAACP urges the FCC to support increasing the proportion of low income households using the lifeline or successor programs; and

BE IT FINALLY RESOLVED that copies of this resolution be transmitted to the President of the United States, the Vice President of the United States, members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, the Chairman and Commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission, and other federal, state, and local government officials, as appropriate.