Bibb County will be among the first areas to join a national program that brings computer and internet access to low income families.
Connect2Compete is a partnership between the Federal Communication Commission and non-profit groups and private companies. They provide low cost internet and computers to families that qualify. They ran a pilot program in San Diego in Spring 2012, now the pilot has expanded to 1,000 communities in 22 states, including Bibb County, GA.
Families who qualify would get high speed internet access from Cox Communications for $9.95 per month for up to two years. It typically costs $29.95 every month. The families would also be able to buy a computer for $150. They also get free training on how to use the new tools.
Beverly Blake, the Knight Foundation program director in Macon, and Lynn Murphey, Vice President of Public Affairs for Cox Communications surprised school board members with the news Thursday afternoon.
Blake said she's been working with Murphey for two years to improve technology access for area families.
"It's really something that Knight has long been supportive of, to bring digital access to everyone in the community," said Blake, "because we know if you don't have access to the internet and know how to use the tools, you're a second class citizen."
"It's absolutely remarkable that our community has been picked as one of the few pilots to actually trial this program and bring the service to our community," said Murphey.
To qualify, a family must have a student that is in the free lunch program at one of the 23 selected schools: Appling Middle, Ballard Hudson Middle, Barden Elementary, Bernd Elementary, Bloomfield Middle, Brookdale Elementary, Bruce Elementary, Burdell Elementary, Burghard Elementary, Hartley Elementary, Ingram Pye Elementary, Jones Elementary, King Danforth Elementary, Morgan Elementary, Northeast High, Rice Elementary, Riley Elementary, Southwest High, Union Elementary, Weaver Middle, Williams Elementary, Macon Behavioral Health System, Price Educational Center.
Murphey says next year, the program will extend to all schools.
The program is only for families who don't currently have broadband service, and who don't have any outstanding past-due payments to Cox.
To enroll, people can call 1-855-222-3217 or visit connect2compete.org.
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