Thursday, November 29, 2012

Connect to Compete Internet Program for Low Income Americans

Connect to compete is one of those rare organizations formed by a combination of private companies and non-profit organizations.

Its goal is easier said than done: To bring high speed internet and digital literacy to low income communities across the United States in order to improve lives in those communities.

The program is making a lot of news, getting a lot of attention and many of America’s best known cable companies are adding their resources to the program.

This means you can get low cost monthly broadband internet access. Plus a low cost computer for your home. And very low-cost computer training classes. That’s a combination that lower income, struggling Americans can really use these days.

Connect to Compete will make it easier for you to apply for better jobs and also make it easier for your kids to excel in school. And that, in a nutshell, is the whole idea behind Connect to Compete.

Let’s take a look at what Connect to Compete has to offer:

Cheap internet access

Connect to Compete is great news for low-income families and individuals who have desperately needed less expensive, more affordable internet. Not slow dial-up, but high-speed internet access at unbeatable prices. Check out all you get:

  • Internet service for only $9.95 + tax per month
  • Program lasts for two years (and you can apply any time in the next three years)
  • 1 Mbps minimum speed (If you’re not fluent in tech jargon, let’s just say that 1 Mbps means fast – so fast that pages pop up on your screen almost immediately.)

So far, participating companies are Cablevision, Charter, Cox Communications, Time Warner Cable, Bend Cable, Bright House Networks, Eagle Communications, GCI, Insight, Mediacom, Midcontinent, Sjoberg’s Cable and Suddenlink. And Comcast and CenturyLink have similar plans called Internet Essentials and Internet Basics, respectively.

Cheap PCs, too

If you think cheap internet service is a great deal, wait until you see what else this program offers. One of the following will be available to you:

Refurbished Redemtech computers from just $150

The price is so low you may be shocked, but we guarantee you’ll be even more shocked to learn that these computers also come loaded with the kind of software you and your kids will need most. Specifically, here’s what you get:

  • Microsoft Windows 7
  • Microsoft Office
  • 90-day tech support
  • Pre-loaded educational and career content
  • Free shipping
$250 PCs from Microsoft

Microsoft, one of the biggest names in the high tech world, is also a partner in Connect to Compete. It’s offering personal computers for just $250. Here’s what it includes:

  • Microsoft Windows 7
  • Microsoft Office
One more benefit: Cheap computer classes

Retailing giant Best Buy is part of the Connect to Compete program, too. And its contribution to the effort may just be the most important part of the whole package.

Simple fact is, a personal computer and internet access won’t help you very much if you don’t know how to use a computer. It’s like having someone give you a car, but no driving lessons.

So the Best Buy Geek Squad’s contribution is to offer basic digital literacy training sessions in 20 major cities around the country. But they don’t stop there. The Geek Squad will work with work with community non-profits to train them how to train additional people.

Finally, industry leader Microsoft has agreed to build an online digital literacy training center for people who live in smaller cities that aren’t large enough for in-person digital literacy classes. And that’s just the beginning. Microsoft will also offer valuable Microsoft Certification training sessions in 15 states. These certifications, normally quite expensive, can help you land a job or improve your career.

What else? Plenty.

Qualified participants will also get free access to Discovery Education’s “premier educational content.”

And will offer online prep and certification classes for just $1 per course.
And, of course, additional jobs and education content will be offered on an ongoing basis.
In other words, the program starts with more than you could have hoped for and grows rapidly from there.

Connect to Compete Eligibility: Do you qualify?

The bad news on a national level is that millions of Americans, maybe even tens of millions of Americans are eligible for this program because of our devastated economy.

But the good news – on a personal level – is that you may well qualify for Connect to Compete.

You qualify if you meet these three simple standards: Eligible families must (1) have at least one student enrolled in the Free School Lunch Program; (2) not be a current subscriber to broadband (or have subscribed in the last 90 days); and (3) not have an overdue bill or unreturned equipment to the participating service provider.

Connect to Compete is going to be an outstanding program that helps a lot of needy Americans when they need it most. We say “it’s going to be,” because it won’t be available until as late as September 2012.

But the good news is that if you are in an area that offers Comcast or CenturyLink cable service, you can participate in a similar plan now. In fact, these plans offer internet service to a broader spectrum of low income Americans: not just those with a child on the National Free School Lunch Program, but to those on any one of a number of government assistance programs such as Meidcaid, Food Stamps, SSI and others.

How to Apply to Connect to Compete

Connect to Compete has officially rolled as of Fall 2012. Schools with participating internet providers in their area should be handing out flyers to the kids. The flyer will have a “Connect to Compete Offer Code” on it (or perhaps the school gave out the code in another way), which you will use when applying for the program at the program’s site, On that site, you can both apply and go back to check your application status.

And don’t forget, you’ve got two other similar options: Comcast’s Internet Essentials program and CenturyLink’s Internet Basics program. If you are having a hard time understanding all the various programs, please read our help page.

Check back frequently, because we’ll continue to update this exciting news for low-income Americans. In fact, subscribe to our news updates to make sure you don’t miss a thing.

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