Internet Access Campaign

The Basic Idea:

Help low-income people get Internet access to increase their ability to access information and services.

How it works:

Implement one or more strategies including:

  • Provide low-cost, new or free refurbished computers.
  • Open public sites that offer access to computers and the Internet.
  • Develop a reduced-cost or free community-wide Internet service.
  • Provide low-cost or free basic computer training.

Who Does It?

Organizations or a partnership including:  

  • Nonprofits
  • Units of government
  • Schools
  • Businesses


  • Because many options are available, there is something that fits almost any community and its families.
  • It is particularly effective in overcoming distance barriers in rural areas.
  • Strategies that increase access to computers also benefit children in the household – better preparing the next generation.


  • It is harder to prove that there are direct benefits for low-income families than programs that provide specific services.

Simplicity Index

  • Increase access, reduce cost. Fast, reliable internet access makes it easier for rural families to find apply for job and educational opportunities and find the services they need. Having that access at home or at a nearby community location saves time and money that may have been spent on travel.

Quilt It

  • Earn It – Internet access brings school and jobs within closer reach, enabling people in spread-out rural areas to get what they need to earn a living for themselves and their families.

Examples and Resources

Redwood Coast Rural Action, a network of community leaders from four rural counties in far northern California, piloted an Internet access initiative to bring reliable broadband Internet access to the area. Click here to learn about their approach and results:

North Dakota Center for Business and Technology conducted a statewide computer skills training program that trained 17,000 mostly rural North Dakota women in basic computer and Internet skills.

The Vermont Rural Broadband Project of the Vermont Council on Rural Development (East Burke, VT) connects individuals who need internet service with local community groups that are working to bring services to their area. When no active groups exist, the Project helps people start a local Community Internet Project.

Broadband Opportunities for Rural America is a joint initiative of the FCC and USDA. Their website contains information and resources about broadband service in rural areas.

The Daily Yonder has stories, case studies and reports about rural communities bringing broadband access to their areas. Click here to access those resources:

RuFES is a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation and the Aspen Institute Community Strategies Group.
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