A program called the Lifeline Assistance Program provides cell phones to low-income American families. The program was adopted in 1985 and received renewed attention under the Obama administration.
The Lifeline program was initiated to help prospective employees receive calls from employers for interviews or job offers. It also allowed parents to stay in contact with their children's' schools and allowed low-income families to phone medical personnel in the event of an emergency.
Today, the program offers basic phone services that range from 250 minutes and/or texts per month to unlimited talk and text. An estimated 12 to 15 million people are participating in the Lifeline program.