Study: Only 12% of Sonoma County households participate in program to get free or discounted internet

As many as 71,600 Sonoma County households qualify for the federal program, but only 12% of eligible households are enrolled, according to a study.|

As many as 71,600 Sonoma County households qualify for discounted internet through a federal program for low-income families, but only 12% of eligible households are enrolled, according to a recent study by a California nonprofit and Chico State University.

President Joe Biden’s administration is pumping millions of dollars into outreach programs to try and change that, and county officials on Wednesday announced two organizations would lead the local effort.

Community Action Partnership of Sonoma County, a Santa Rosa nonprofit, received $200,000 while the Sonoma County Economic Development Board received $300,000 from the federal government. The Federal Communications Commission awarded both grants in an effort to boost enrollment in its Affordable Connectivity Program in the area.

Biden administration officials announced last week the White House would award more than $73 million in grants for outreach programs like the ones Sonoma County announced this week in an effort to boost enrollment in the federal programs. The money comes out of the 2021 infrastructure bill, a $1.2 trillion act that included $65 billion to expand broadband access around the country.

“This funding will support a more equitable access to internet services, and will enable families to be better equipped to participate in our digital world and increase their access to vital community resources and educational and employment opportunities,” said Kathy Gonzales-Kane, director of services for Community Action Partnership.

By enrolling in the Affordable Connectivity Program, households can receive $30 a month toward internet services, or more if the household is on certain tribal lands.

Households can also receive discounts toward purchasing computers or tablets. To learn how to apply to the program, visit

EDITOR’S NOTE: This story has been revised to correct a reference to the California State University, Chico.

You can reach Staff Writer Andrew Graham at 707-526-8667 or On Twitter @AndrewGraham88

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