Commissioner Peterman’s Decision Resolving Phase I and II Issues maintains that the program be available to pre- and K-12 schools, public community colleges, public libraries, hospitals, health care clinics, community based organizations, and community technology programs. Other highlights from the Decision include:
- Reduced support for voice and VoIP services to 25% off monthly charges (with a process for exemption requests to be determined).
- The discount will continue be 50% off other eligible services.
- Updated eligible services list that includes newer technologies (see Decision Appendix B for details)
- CBOs (but not other entities) are required to re-certify their eligibility every 3 years.
However, the Decision also contains revised goals for the program and new eligibility rules that will disqualify a large number of CBOs. You can find the complete text of the Decision here (discussion of CBO eligibility begins on page 22) but we’ve highlighted the key points below.
The new eligibility criteria means a CBO must have:
- Revenues less than $5 million. Large CBOs with small individual local chapters or offices can apply for the local individual organization if that individual organization operates below the $5 million cap.
- Qualifying services* must be 50% or more of a CBO’s mission.
- IRS 501(c)3 tax exempt letter.
- IRS 990 or other financial statements and attestation.
- Provides its community access to the internet. ("community access" means members of your community - not just your staff - must be able to use the computers)
- Provides services directly to individuals at specific geographic locations. ("geographic locations" has not been defined yet)
- A majority of the members of the Board of Directors are members of the community the organization serves. ("members of the community" has not been defined yet)
- Services are provided directly or through some closely related indirect assistance. “Indirect Assistance” means providing assistance on site to those unable to do so because of disability or limited English proficiency or limited computer literacy.
- Internet access for purely administrative purposes continues to be prohibited.
- Religious organizations must meet all the CBO criteria above and provide qualifying services* through a separate legal entity that files a separate federal income tax return.
- 2-1-1 information and referral CBOs will continue to be eligible.
*Qualifying services include: health care, job training, job placement, 2-1-1 referral and information services, educational instruction**, or a community technology program providing access to and training in the internet and other technologies.
**The Decision further defines “educational instruction” as:
“Educational instruction” is “regular, ongoing, pre-school or K-12 academic educational or instructional programs, that can also include, ESL and language education, literacy, job training, technology instruction, and information on public benefit and social services programs eligibility and access.”
While we are waiting for a final Ruling to decide a few last issues, the reduction in voice and VoIP services went into effect July 1, 2016. For more information about the implementation discussions and how the new rules came about, please see Rulemaking to Conduct a Comprehensive Examination of the California Teleconnect Fund or visit the CTF Rulemaking page.