Connect2compete (often written incorrectly as 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, low-priced computers and digital literacy to low income communities across the United States in order to improve lives in those communities. They do this by connecting either a) low-income families who have a child in school, or b) anyone living in any of the over 14,000 zip codes where the annual median income is under $35,000, with internet companies willing to give them a special deal. (Also under the Connect2Compete umbrella, Cox Cable has expanded it’s eligibility to include participants of SNAP and TANF.)
The program has made a lot of news, getting much attention and many of America’s best known cable companies and assortment of other internet companies have partnered up with the program.
Connect2Compete helps you find 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.
An internet connection 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 Connect2Compete.
Let’s take a look at what Connect2Compete has to offer:
Cheap internet access
Connect2Compete is great news for low-income families and individuals who desperately need less expensive, more cheap internet. Not slow dial-up, but high-speed internet access at unbeatable prices. Check out all you get:
- Internet service mostly under $10, with a couple outliers sightly higher; and there’s also a free plan from partner FreedomPop
- Program lasts for two years (and you can apply any time in the next three years)
- Minimum of 1 Mbps minimum speed (If you’re not fluent in tech jargon, 1 Mbps is fast even that pages pop up on your screen almost immediately and you’ll be able to watch videos.)
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 Connect2Compete. It’s offering personal computers for just $250. Here’s what it includes:
- Microsoft Windows 7
- Microsoft Office
One more benefit: Cheap computer classes
The 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 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 CareerBuilder.com 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.
Connect2Compete 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 devasted and barely recovering economy.
But the good news – on a personal level – is that you may well qualify for Connect2Compete and live in an area that one of their partners servces.
There are two ways you can qualify for this inexpensive internet access.
- your household must (a) have at least one student enrolled in the Free School Lunch Program (Cox now allows SNAP and TANF participants); (b) not be a current subscriber to the broadband service (or have subscribed in the last 90 days) you are enrolling with; and (c) not have an overdue bill or unreturned equipment to the participating service provider.
- Reside in any of over 14,000 zip codes that have a median household income level of $35,000 or less. No matter your income or other eligibility.
Which eligibility rule is applied depends upon which internet service plan you are trying to get. But in a nutshell, the three wireless internet companies — FreedomPop, Mobile Beacon and Mobile Citizen — are all based upon the zip code, and in general, the rest are based upon the School Lunch program criteria.
The companies that participate to provide broadband access are Bright House, Cablevision, Comcast (Internet Essentials), Cox Communications, Mediacom, Midcontinent, Mobile Citizen, Mobile Beacon, and VTX 1 and Wilco.
|Comcast (Internet Essentials) |
|VTX 1 |
|Bright House Internet |
If you are interested in Comcast’s Internet Essentials plan offered through Connect2Compete, you can also go directly to their offer page. There is no difference in price by doing so.
The other programs listed above require you to begin at the the EveryoneOn.org site, which hosts the Connect2Compete program. While you can go directly to FreedomPop, you won’t find the same deal and you’ll pay considerably more.
If Connect2Compete doesn’t work for you, the good news is that if you are in an area that offers CenturyLink DSL service, you can participate in their similar plan called Internet Basics. In fact, this plan offer internet service to a broader spectrum of low income Americans: not just those with a child on the National Free School Lunch Program or one in a certain zip code, but to those on any one of a number of government assistance programs such as Medicaid, Food Stamps, SSI and others.
How to Apply to Connect2Compete
Connect2Compete at Everyoneon.org:
Website: Everyone On
Schools with participating C2C internet providers in their area should be handing out flyers to the kids. The flyer will have a “Connect2Compete 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, EveryoneOn.org. On that site, you can both apply and go back to check your application status.