$300,000 Award to Start Internet Aid Outreach in Doa Ana County

LAS CRUCES A federal program launched during the pandemic helps low-income families pay the monthly cost of the Internet, sometimes covering the entire bill. But many people in southern New Mexico are unaware of the program or have had trouble enrolling.

On Thursday, July 6, local Internet access advocates formally announced a $300,000 funding award to raise awareness and help people enroll in the home Internet subsidy, known as the Affordable Connectivity Program. The ACP pays families up to $30 a month (or $75 for tribal members) for internet.

Supporters say the new funding will help residents in rural, mostly Hispanic border communities known as settlements, as well as some people in cities like Las Cruces who are negatively impacted by a national digital divide. Daisy Maldonado, executive director of Empowerment Congress, noted that there are 37 settlements in Doa Ana County that need access or better access. Broadband is a vital public infrastructure needed for daily life, she said.

Heather Lutz, grants administrator for Luna County, right, and Savannah Zamora, finance, grants and scholarships coordinator for the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico, listen to presenters announce a new $300,000 grant for better Internet access Thursday, July 6, 2023, at the offices of the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico in Las Cruces.

This hasn’t just been highlighted during the COVID-19 pandemic and stay-at-home orders here in New Mexico, it’s been highlighted exponentially, he said during a press conference at the Community Foundation of Southern New Mexico headquarters in Las Cruces. The children now had to do home schooling. The parents had to work from home, which was nearly impossible because, again, they didn’t have broadband internet.

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