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A Giant Step for Digital Equity

A Giant Step for Digital Equity

Today Senators Patty Murray (D-WA), Angus King (I-ME), Mazie Hirono (D-HI), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Tina Smith (D-MN), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), Jack Reed (D-RI), and Gary Peters (D-MI) have introduced the Digital Equity Act of 2019.

The NCL is proud to endorse this legislation, which was developed by Senator Murray’s office with input and support from the NCL and numerous other organizations working for equal access for all. It defines “digital equity” and “digital inclusion” for the first time in statute, with a focus on enabling full participation in society and the economy. It specifically references underserved and overlooked populations, particularly adults who seek to develop their literacy, numeracy, and digital skills but lack access for geographic, economic, and other reasons.

The Act establishes two grant programs to be administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to promote digital equity nationwide:

  • Building Capacity within States through Formula Grants: The legislation creates an annual $125 million formula grant program for all 50 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico to fund the creation and implementation of comprehensive digital equity plans in each State.
  • Spurring Targeted Action through Competitive Grants: The legislation also creates an annual $125 million competitive grant program to support digital equity projects undertaken by individual groups, coalitions, and/or communities of interest.

The Act also promotes research and evidence-based policymaking. It tasks NTIA with evaluating digital equity projects and providing policymakers at the local, state, and federal levels with detailed information about which projects are most effective.

The Digital Equity Act of 2019 has the potential to help millions of Americans gain the digital tools they need to thrive. Feel free to share this post with your networks. Graphics for Facebook, Instagram (including stories), and Twitter, along with GIFs and a short video, can be found here. Learn more from Senator Murray’s new Medium Post “Why We Need the Digital Equity Act” here.

Call your U.S. Senators today and tell them it’s time for #DigitalEquityNow! It’s time to close the digital divide and focus on making sure communities with broadband access have the skills and knowledge to take full advantage of all the internet has to offer.