Mobile Beacon Awards Digital Inclusion Pilot Grant to Rockford Housing Authority and LifeSTEPS

(Johnston, Rhode Island) October 31, 2016 – Mobile Beacon announced today that it has chosen Rockford Housing Authority (RHA) in Illinois and LifeSTEPS (Life Skills Training & Educational Programs) in California as the recipients of its Wi-Fly Lending Launch Kit grant. The grants provide 25 laptops, 25 4G LTE mobile hotspots, and free, mobile, unlimited 4G LTE internet access for one year to each organization to create new digital inclusion projects in their communities that will reach their most at-risk residents who presently have limited or no access to technology.

“At Mobile Beacon, we believe everyone deserves to be connected to the internet,” said Katherine Messier, Executive Director of Mobile Beacon. “The internet is needed for everything from being able to doing your homework at night to applying to a new job to accessing your social security benefits. We are proud to have Rockford Housing Authority and LifeSTEPS join our national efforts to get even more Americans connected and help close the digital divide.”

Across the country, 34 million Americans lack internet access, including many from low-income or underserved communities. Today more than half of all senior citizens, adults living with a disability and children living in low-income families cannot get online at home. This leaves them at a severe disadvantage for applying for social services and benefits, researching jobs, furthering their education, or doing their homework to keep up with their peers in school.

“The Wi-Fly Lending Launch Kit will assist us in achieving our commitment to RHA residents under our ConnectHome program to bridge the digital divide for 900 public housing families. We are both honored and excited to build this relationship over our common beliefs that everyone deserves to be connected to the internet and the opportunities this affords,” Ron Clewer, CEO RHA. In Rockford, IL one in five households doesn’t have access to the internet, with many of these concentrated in the lowest income areas. RHA plans to use this grant to create a pilot program to reach families living in public housing. They will use the Wi-Fly Lending Launch Kit grant to help families support students’ educational needs, access healthcare services, explore employment opportunities, and plan financially and conduct online banking.

“Many of our low-income residents are geographically isolated, or living in urban areas but in pockets without much public transit,” said LifeSTEPS Executive Director Beth Southorn. “Thanks to this partnership with Mobile Beacon, 25 distinct communities will now have a lifeline to the outside world via internet access, which will help them break the cycle of poverty with easier access to online job applications, scholarship information, and so much more.”

LifeSTEPS serves more than 331 affordable housing communities across California, including families and seniors who are predominantly low-income, working-poor who often hold several jobs just to make ends meet or living on a fixed-income. With Mobile Beacon’s Wi-Fly Lending Launch Kit, they will provide internet access for as many as 2,500 residents.

Awarded once a year, Mobile Beacon’s Wi-Fly Lending Launch Kit grant provides the tools needed to help a nonprofit, school, library or other community organization set up a digital inclusion pilot program in their community. Results from the digital inclusion pilot programs will be posted online at the conclusion of the one-year pilot period.

About

Mobile Beacon is dedicated to connecting nonprofits, schools, and libraries to the affordable, high-speed internet access they need to better serve their communities. Mobile Beacon’s $10/month 4g LTE internet service helps organizations deliver more services and provide connectivity for those in their communities without internet access. Mobile Beacon was created in 2010 by a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the second largest Educational Broadband Service (EBS) provider in the United States. Learn more at http://www.mobilebeacon.org.

Rockford Housing Authority (RHA) and its not for profit subsidiary Bridge Rockford Alliance are committed to being a catalyst for positive change in the neighborhoods where its residents live. RHA operates under the belief that a quality home is the foundation of society and community and that a quality home life provides hope and the pathway to achieving the goals of its residents. RHA provides housing to low-income families, elderly and disabled citizens of Rockford.

Established in 1996, LifeSTEPS is the largest nonprofit provider of supportive social services to affordable housing residents in California, providing service access to over 80,000 living in over 280 affordable communities throughout the state. LifeSTEPS’ presence in Santa Clara County is significant, serving 44 affordable communities representing over 2,600 households. The primary focus of our programs is to empower and strengthen families and individuals to improve their economic and social sustainability. In 2012 LifeSTEPS was inducted into the California Housing Hall of Fame by the California Housing Consortium because of the overall efficacy of our social services model. For more information on LifeSTEPS and our programs, please go to our website.

Contact: Lauren Yergeau
Phone: 401.934.0500
Email: lyergeau@mobilebeacon.org

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