Foundation Announces Charitable Investment to Advance Digital Equity
The Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation today announced a $50,000 charitable investment to help advance digital equity across the city.
The funding will support an effort led by South Dakota Voices for Peace (SDVFP) to enroll low income households in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a federal initiative that provides eligible households a discount of up to $30 a month toward internet services and a one-time $100 voucher to use toward the purchase a laptop, desktop computer or tablet.
According to a recent study on digital equity across the city, 15% of Sioux Falls households are classified as “unconnected” — meaning they lack internet access at home or on a mobile device. Advocates say that’s unacceptable.
Patrick Gale serves as the Community Foundation’s Vice President for Community Investment and is a member of Connect Sioux Falls, a group of local leaders dedicated to advancing digital equity and digital literacy across the city. He called digital equity one of our community’s most pressing challenges.
“In today’s world, economic and social success is dependent on access to the internet,” he said. “Everything we do from utilizing government and social services, to submitting job applications, to navigating healthcare, to advancing our education occurs online. However, thousands across our city lack access to the internet and mobile devices entirely.”
“Those in our community who lack access to the internet also lack access to opportunities. As a community, we have a collective responsibility to help solve this challenge. So we’re proud to support this effort with a grant from our Community Fund and we look forward to seeing the impact of this investment in the months and years to come.”— Patrick Gale, Vice President, Community Investment
Gale said closing the digital divide will create a stronger Sioux Falls.
“Expanding the number of households who can access the internet will also help develop our workforce by offering connections to job and training opportunities, it will strengthen the health of our community by offering easier access to healthcare resources and support, and it will enhance the vitality of our city by creating connections and sparking innovation,” he said.
Taneeza Islam is the Executive Director for South Dakota Voices for Peace and is also a member of Connect Sioux Falls. She called the charitable investment a game-changer for thousands of households across Sioux Falls.
“According to a recent study, those who are minorities, less educated and have lower incomes are roughly seven times less likely to have access to the internet and mobile devices at home compared to those who are white, educated, and have higher incomes,” Islam said. “Thanks to this support from the Sioux Falls Area Community Foundation, we’ll be able to add a Digital Equity Navigator to our team who will focus entirely on helping our community’s most vulnerable enroll in this important program that will no doubt impact economic and social success for generations to come.”
Islam said nearly 25,000 households throughout Sioux Falls are eligible to participate in the program; however, only 18% of those have enrolled in the program to date.
The new investment will extend an ACP awareness and enrollment campaign that began earlier this year. In partnership with Connect Sioux Falls, the Sioux Falls School District, Caminando Juntos and the Teddy Bear Den, SDVFP enrolled nearly 200 households in the program from January – May 2023.
Learn more about eligibility requirements and how to enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program at sdvfpeace.org/acp.