We’ve all seen them. People standing on street corners, holding or spinning signs that read: “free phone.” I see them regularly just outside our office in downtown Sacramento on the corner of 9th and K. I’ve never paid much attention, nor have I seen anyone stop and talk to them, mostly because it seems like a gimmick. We see that and think “sure, but what’s the catch?”

Surprisingly, it is not a gimmick. There is no catch. It’s true. There are free phones (yes, smart phones). And free service (yes, with unlimited talk and text – and yes, with a data plan) for families who qualify.

Why is it free? Because it is a government sponsored program to give tech access to families who struggle – like the families we serve in Head Start. Different companies contract with the government to get these phones and service plans to families. Phone retailers are simply — or not so simply — tasked with connecting this service to families.


When I reached out to Charles Emig at BDI Mobility, he was jazzed. Head Start is uniquely positioned to get the Lifeline benefit into the hands of families. This is a natural fit and partnership. Lifeline was created nearly 10 years ago, funded through the Universal Service Fund fee that we all pay for on our phone bills. This is the same program that created E-rate in the mid-90’s.

It’s already been a decade. Let’s not wait any longer to ensure every family that qualifies this valuable benefit takes advantage of it, because families do better when they are connected. They are stronger when they have access to information. They thrive when they have tools that help navigate complicated services and programs.

To learn more about the program, read on!

About The California LifeLine Program (California LifeLine)

California LifeLine is a state program that provides discounted home phone and cell phone services to eligible households. The California LifeLine discounts help consumers lower the cost of their phone bills. Only one discount per household is allowed (except for teletypewriter users and for Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program participants). Each household must choose to get the discount either on a home phone or on a cell phone, but not on both.

About The LifeLine Offer

BDI offers government assisted wireless services through approved California LifeLine telecom providers to income-eligible families and individuals in California. Qualified customers will receive a free smart phone plus Unlimited Talk / Text units and 2 GB of Data for Internet every month. We offer LifeLine discounts to qualified California customers who meet certain eligibility requirements, such as government assistance or a household income that is at or below the California Household Income Standards. The free LifeLine benefit is limited to one per household and cannot be combined with any other LifeLine offer.

California LifeLine Eligibility Requirements
  • Eligible Programs for LifeLine in California
  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) (a.k.a. CalFresh, Food Stamps)
  • Low-Income Heat & Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP)
  • Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
    Federal Public Housing Assistance / Section 8
  • Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
  • California Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs)
  • Stanislaus County Work Opportunity and Responsibility to Kids (StanWORKs)
  • Welfare-To-Work (WTW)
    Greater avenues for Independence (GAIN)
  • National School Lunch Program (NSL) Free Program Only
    Medicaid (aka Medi-Cal)
  • Women, Infants, and Children Program (WIC)
  • Veterans Pension or Survivors Benefit
  • Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations
  • Tribally Administered TANF
  • Bureau of Indian Affairs General Assistance
  • Tribally Administered Head Start (meeting the income qualifications of Head Start)
  • Service Delivery – Phones and Plans

BDI will provision a free phone with a local phone number. Consumers may also choose to bring their own phone on which the service can be placed or buy an upgraded phone from their BDI representative.

The plan is as follows:
  • Free 5-inch screen Android Smartphone
  • Unlimited Talk
  • Unlimited Text
  • 2 GB of Data every month
  • Nationwide Coverage
  • No Monthly Bills or Contracts
  • Free Call Voicemail
  • Free Caller ID

The consumers LifeLine benefit will not be active until they have made their first phone call.

The free service will be maintained as long as the consumer actively uses their phone on a monthly basis, remains eligible for the service, and completes the annual recertification process. There is no contract for this service. There will be no bills sent to the consumer. They have no obligation to stay with our service and can port to another LifeLine service provider at their will.

To learn more, please contact BDI Logistics here: http://www.bdimobility.com/contact-us/

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