Pawel Popiel and David Elliot Berman Named Marjorie & Charles Benton Opportunity Fund Fellows

For their project, Popiel and Berman will conduct research on Philadelphia's efforts to get its most marginalized communities online.

The Benton Institute for Broadband & Society has named Media, Inequality and Change Center (MIC) Postdoctoral Fellows Pawel Popiel (Ph.D. ‘20) and David Elliot Berman (Ph.D. ‘22) Marjorie & Charles Benton Opportunity Fund Fellows.

David Elliot Berman
David Elliot Berman, Ph.D.

As part of the Benton Institute’s inaugural Equitable Broadband in Urban America fellowship cohort, Popiel and Berman will examine efforts to close the digital divide in Philadelphia. 

The pair will focus on the effectiveness of low-income internet plans in the city as well as the implementation of the federal Affordable Connectivity Program, launched in 2021 to subsidize internet access for the poorest Americans. 

Pawel Popiel
Pawel Popiel, Ph.D.

Over the course of the 18-month fellowship, Popiel and Berman will work with Philadelphia residents, city officials, and nonprofits to determine the barriers to enrollment in low-cost broadband programs in the city.

One program of interest is the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey’s Digital Navigator Network, a collective of community organizations that help Philadelphians sign up for and connect to the internet.

Through their project, Popiel and Berman seek to demystify the inner workings of the digital welfare state, as well as offer policy proposals for reforming and reimagining it in order to secure a more just and equitable digital future.