This DC digital services firm helped guarantee access to WiFi in public schools - Technical.ly DC

Access

Jan. 14, 2015 10:57 am

This DC digital services firm helped guarantee access to WiFi in public schools

When the FCC voted to raise funding to support broadband internet in public schools, the commission made the announcement with a hashtag created by D.C.-based Social Driver.

D.C. digital services firm Social Driver organized a social media campaign to promote a potential federal funding increase for internet in public schools.

(Photo by Flickr user Michael Coghlan, used under a Creative Commons license)

The Federal Communications Commission voted Dec. 11 to raise the funding cap for E-Rate, a subsidy program that helps schools and libraries connect to the internet, from $2.4 to $3.9 billion per year.

The funding cap had not budged since 1997.

Notice that not very institutional-sounding hashtag, #Internet4Schools, the commission used to share the news? It’s a creation of D.C.-based Social Driver.

The digital services shop cofounded by husbands Anthony Shop and Thomas Sanchez orchestrated the Alliance for Excellent Education’s social media campaign.

The group, headed by former West Virginia Gov. Bob Wise, wasn’t alone in its attempts to persuade regulators to raise the E-Rate budget.

The program, which is funded by the Universal Service Fund through a small tax levied on phone bills (and now slated to increase by about $2 per line), was created in the 1990s.

It was due for an update: in July, the FCC had agreed to phase out funding on “legacy” technologies — including pagers!

As Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and former Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.V.), who both helped pass the original measure through the Telecommunications Act of 1996, put it in a letter to the commission: “the E-Rate program has been frozen at a level designed for the dial-up era.”

Advertisement

Helping public schools connect to WiFi? Sounds like a goal many internet users could get behind. But the cause was missing a rallying cry.

“It’s hard to convey exactly what E-Rate is” in 140 characters, explained Matt Scott, a digital strategist at Social Driver. So his team came up with a couple hashtags to replace the moribund #RaiseTheErateCap: #Internet4Schools (and also #Wifi4Schools). Those phrases, particularly the first one, are “a really broad term that makes a lot of sense to people,” said Scott.

According to Social Driver’s research, the two hashtags garnered 23.2 million impressions on Twitter and Facebook, with Facebook posts initiating a 5 percent engagement rate. The number of interactions tripled before the launch of the eight-week 99in5 campaign.

Phillip Lovell, a vice president for policy and advocacy at the alliance that commissioned the campaign, told Technical.ly DC that the group had never before used social media “strategically” as a lobbying tool. “It most certainly will not be the last,” he wrote in an email.

“It’s one thing for a DC-based advocacy organization to say that students need access to the internet,” Lovell said. “It’s another thing to hear a public outcry demanding it.”

Companies: Social Driver
People: Anthony Shop
-30-
JOIN THE COMMUNITY, BECOME A MEMBER
Already a member? Sign in here
Connect with companies from the Technical.ly community
New call-to-action

Advertisement

Society for Science & the Public awards $65K in grants to STEM organizations

Byte Back and Sorcero are teaming up to integrate AI into tech classrooms

The Flatiron School launches a new financing option for its DC campus

SPONSORED

DC

Verizon is looking for the brightest ideas on how to use its 5G technology

Washington, D.C.

The Washington Post

Digital Analyst – Audience Development & Analytics

Apply Now
Washington, D.C.

The Washington Post

QA Analyst

Apply Now
Washington, D.C.

The Washington Post

Site / Full Stack Engineer

Apply Now

Society for Science & the Public awards $120K in STEM grants to 35 science teachers

These DC-area middle schools are getting a tech upgrade from Verizon

Online and tech-supported giving to schools up 27 percent in 2018, GiveCampus finds

SPONSORED

DC

Escape the August heat with cool AI tech

Washington, D.C.

The Washington Post

Full Stack Developer

Apply Now
Washington, D.C.

The Washington Post

Senior Full Stack Software Engineer

Apply Now
Washington, DC

SmartLogic

Account Executive (DC)

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Dc

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!