Working to ensure that all homeless and low-income people have the communication tools to succeed!
FREE COMMUNICATIONS TOOLS FOR PEOPLE IN NEED
Imagine how different your life would be if you could not afford a phone. How would you complete a job application without a phone number? How would you receive messages from your doctor? How isolating would it be not to have a way for friends and family members to reach you?
We often take for granted having ready access to a telephone. But for thousands of homeless and low-income Minnesotans, life without a phone number is a reality. Since 1994 Open Access Connections has provided free voice mail to more than 68,000 homeless and low-income Minnesotans. Each year more than 2,900 Minnesotans will use our free voice mail services, empowering them to find employment, housing, and economic security.
The needs of homeless and low-income Minnesotans has changed greatly since our founding. To better meet the needs of of our clients we have expanded our work to include the following programs:
Grassroots Outreach: We train active voice mail users, all of whom have experienced homelessness, to distribute our free voice mail services directly at nonprofit locations. This program provides job experiences for outreach workers, as well as increases the presence of our voice mail services. A list of current outreach locations can be found at: http://openaccessconnections.org/participants/grassroots-outreach/
Lifeline Advocacy: For over 5 years Open Access Connections has been a key consumer watchdog for the federal Lifeline program, which provides subsidized phone services to eligible low-income consumers. We recently formed a partnership with EnTouch Wireless, allowing us to distribute their free Lifeline supported cell phones as part of our Grassroots Outreach. In 2015 we distributed over 1,800 Lifeline supported cell phones. When a low-income consumers are able to bundle a Lifeline free cell phone with our free voice mail services, they are able to have the convenience of a cell phone and the dependability of a voice mail number.
Generation 50+ Group: We provide a safe space for older people who have or are currently experiencing homelessness to discuss issues affecting their community, and work towards finding solutions. The Generation 50+ Group has been active working with partner coalitions in Restoring the Vote for felons and increasing affordable housing options.
Non-Partisan Voter Engagement. The Generation 50+ Group and Grassroots Outreach project have worked closely with Minnesota Voice in engaging low-income and communities and color to vote. In 2016 we registered and pledged 817 homeless and low-income people to vote, as well as completed 170 shifts of Get Out The Vote phone banking and door knocking.
A donation to Open Access Connections will help ensure that all homeless and low-income Minnesotans will have access to the communication tools to succeed.