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How Will Your State Leverage Digital Equity Program Funding?

This article was published on:
July 28, 2022

Thanks to the $65 billion Internet for All initiative, your state has an historic opportunity to close gaps in high-speed internet access and affordability within its borders.

Every state and eligible territory has signed on to participate in at least one of the current administration’s state digital equity grant programs. Some have already stepped up to the plate with plans, including Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Virginia. Other states are still strategizing and perhaps hoping to incorporate promising aspects of previously approved plans into their own projects.

Every plan so far includes capital investments in high-speed broadband infrastructure or financial incentives to encourage internet service providers to extend services into rural areas and low-income neighborhoods—places that providers typically avoid because of low profit potential.

By making hundreds of millions of dollars available to state digital equity programs, the federal government is sending a strong message: leaving anyone without reliable internet access is no longer acceptable for any reason.

In today’s digital economy, we all need the internet to thrive, regardless of financial status, race, physical address, age, or digital skills. Now state leaders have the power (and the dollars) to make that happen. One state made an actual promise in their plan. According to the Benton Institute, Minnesota pledged that all homes and businesses will have access to at least one provider of broadband with download speeds of at least 100 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 20 Mbps by 2026.

In addition to building out infrastructure, states have the opportunity to build digital literacy too. Grants are available to subsidize equipment, internet skills training, telehealth, remote learning, and other activities to make sure that everyone can use high-speed internet in a meaningful way.

This is promising news for so many of our nonprofit clients – including those in behavioral health services, STEM education, and community development – who have been challenged to keep clients, families, and students connected to digital resources through the Covid-19 pandemic and beyond. You can read about some of their challenges and creative solutions for bridging the digital divide in our case studies.

Mobile Citizen offers affordable Wi-Fi hotspot devices and unlimited data plans exclusively to qualified schools, libraries, nonprofits and social welfare agencies to advance digital equity and to help end the digital divide. To explore opportunities for your organization, please contact our experts in the Mobile Citizen Customer Service Center at 877-216-9603.