“Montgomery Connects,” Montgomery County’s digital equity and inclusion program, has launched a new program to distribute 34,000 free laptop computers to low-income families. There is a limit of one computer per address. Eligible recipients must be Maryland residents but do not need to be U.S. citizens.
Montgomery Connects received a Maryland Connected Devices grant valued at $7 million to distribute 34,000 Chromebook laptops to low-income households. Montgomery Connects is operated by the County’s Department of Technology & Enterprise Business Solutions (TEBS).
Appointments to receive a computer can be made at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/computer.
“Access to a computer is essential for every family, regardless of their income level,” said County Executive Marc Elrich. “While children may have access to computers through schools, it is equally vital for parents, working individuals, and college students to have their own computers. The Maryland Connected Devices program has been specifically designed to address this issue and provide low-income families with the tools they need to bridge the digital divide. Although low-income families make up only 21 percent of County households, they represent a significant 60 percent of households without computers. It is our responsibility to ensure that everyone in our community has equal opportunities for success in today’s digital age.”
Qualifications to receive a computer include:
- Must be enrolled in a benefit program, such as SNAP food benefits, Medicaid (not regular Medicare), free school lunch, WIC, SSI (not regular Social Security), Pell Grants for college students or Housing Choice Vouchers or Project-Based Rental Assistance.
- Must be enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity or Lifeline Internet or telephone discount programs.
- The household must earn less than 200 percent of the Federal poverty rate ($29,160 for a one-person household, $39,440 for a two-person household, $49,720 for a three-person household, $60,000 for a four-person household—and $10,280 for each additional person in the household).
After arranging an appointment to get a computer, eligible residents should bring the following items to their pick-up appointment:
- Photo identification
- Proof of address. If a person is using a Photo ID without an address (such as a passport), they must bring a piece of mail or online bill showing their address.
- Proof of enrollment in a benefit program or proof of income by bringing:
- A SNAP or Medicaid card.
- ACP or Lifeline program on an internet bill.
- Enrollment letter showing the program name, date, and notice of eligibility.
- The first page of their income tax return (a W-2 or pay stub cannot be used because a person may have more than one job).
The program will prioritize Montgomery County residents 7 and older who have not received a computer from the County under a previous program. Community members do not have to be U.S. citizens but must be Maryland residents.
Assistance will be offered at every Montgomery Connects computer distribution event to help people enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). ACP offers up to $45 per month off home internet or mobile phone internet service.
Representatives from Comcast Xfinity, Verizon FiOS and Wireless, T-Mobile, and other service providers are at most events to help get discounts applied to accounts after enrolling in ACP.
Households are eligible for ACP using the same criteria as the Maryland Connected Devices computer program above.
The schedule for upcoming computer distribution events:
- Friday, July 14. 2-6 p.m. McGee Library, 9000 Wayne Ave. Silver Spring
- Tuesday, July 18. Noon-4 p.m. Gaithersburg Library, 18330 Montgomery Village Ave., Gaithersburg
- Wednesday, July 19. Noon-4 p.m. Wheaton American Job Center, 11510 Georgia Ave., Wheaton
- Thursday, July 20. 1-5 p.m. McGee Library, 900 Wayne Ave., Silver Spring
- Saturday, July 22. 11 a.m-3 p.m. Eastern Montgomery Regional Service Center, 3300 Briggs Chaney Rd, Silver Spring
- Tuesday, July 25. Noon-4 p.m. Germantown American Job Center, 12900 Middlebrook Rd., Germantown
- Thursday, July 27. Noon-4 p.m. Aspen Hill Library, 4407 Aspen Hill Rd., Rockville
- Friday, July 28. 2-6 p.m. McGee Library, 9000 Wayne Ave. Silver Spring
Eligible residents must have an email address to make an appointment online at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/computer. If a resident needs assistance to make an appointment, call the Marylander Online Help Hotline at 301-405-9810, from 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday or from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. on Saturday. Help is available in English, Spanish, and in other languages upon request.