In November 2022, the FCC published a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) seeking community partners to develop outreach programs to promote awareness of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) among eligible households in historically underserved and unserved communities as part of the ACP Outreach Grant Program. On Friday, March 10, 2023, the FCC announced approximately $66 million in grant funding for two of the four sub-programs in the Outreach Program: the National Competitive Outreach Program (NCOP) and the Tribal Competitive Outreach Program (TCOP). The FCC’s announcement accepts about 190 grant applicants, amounting to $60 million for the NCOP, and 20 grant applicants, amounting to about $6 million for the TCOP. Once the Notice of Awards are issued, grant recipients will have 30 days to accept the awards. These funds will be used for digital campaigns, door-to-door canvassing, operate phone banks, distribute direct mail, host ACP application enrollment and outreach events in 50 states and territories. Grants in the other two sub-programs in the Outreach Grant Program, the Your Home, Your Internet Outreach Grants and the ACP Navigator Pilot Program Outreach Grants, will be announced in the future.
In addition, the FCC’s announcement highlighted its plan to release, “in the next few weeks,” new enhancements to the ACP online consumer application and enrollment process. The announcement states that the FCC will incorporate feedback from navigators and other stakeholders that “will make the application and enrollment process easier by reducing the number of steps required to apply and improving language clarity.” The impact on ACP consumers and providers as a result of that upcoming release remains to be seen.