The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) exists to help Americans of all stripes get and stay connected to America’s Excellent Internet. But for millions around the country, Internet access and a device alone aren’t enough to close the digital divide. Digital skills and tech support services offered through a trusted community organization is critical to solving this puzzle—just ask U.S. Army veteran Bobby Jenks.
After leaving the service as a decorated peacetime soldier, Bobby worked as a truck driver for 20 years until an accident left him unable to continue his trucking career. This major life shift might have rattled some people, but not Bobby. He chose to return to school, pursuing an online degree in criminal justice and human services from Colorado Technical University.
Just one problem: Bobby didn’t have home broadband and attempted to start his academic journey on his cell phone. “Needless to say, it was very difficult for me to properly access my coursework or even do research or work on my assignments,” said Bobby.
Not only did the digital navigator help Bobby get connected to the internet through ACP, but they equipped him with the tools to truly take advantage of home broadband. They set up his home Wi-Fi and showed him how to use his computer and take advantage of online tools including accessing his school’s website. But the digital navigator’s job didn’t end there.
A few weeks later, Bobby’s school provided him with a laptop to be used for schoolwork, but it hadn’t been configured. Bobby reached back out to Computer Reach for help. They promptly made an appointment for an in-person training session. A navigator came to Bobby’s house, conﬁgured his laptop, and made sure he knew how to use it properly.
With a home broadband connection and newfound digital confidence, he’s flourishing in his studies and credits the ACP and digital navigators for giving him the tools to stay in school. “[ACP] has put me in a position where I can see myself graduating with a college degree in 2025,” Bobby said. I can’t say enough about [the Digital Navigator program]. This is such a great service for folks like me who just can’t afford in-person training and who can’t physically attend in-person computer classes.”
The great thing about Bobby’s story is that it’s not unique! Computer Reach’s community-based digital navigator and inclusion programs have helped many other Pennsylvanians get and stay online, enabling them to work, study, and LIVE in the 21st century.
Success stories like these are why we must continue supporting digital navigators and critical programs like ACP so we can #Connect20.