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What’s New in Digital Equity: Colorado Springs Awards $800K to Local Nonprofits

Plus, philanthropists have launched a new effort to support women in the digital economy, New York City has announced a new Gigabit Center on Staten Island, and more.

Aerial vew of Colorado Springs, Colo., at dusk.
Colorado Springs, Colo., at Dusk
Shutterstock/Jacob Boomsma
This week in “What’s New in Digital Equity” — our weekly look at government digital equity and broadband news — we have a number of interesting items, which you can jump to with the links below:


Colorado Springs has awarded nearly $800,000 to local nonprofits in the digital equity space, the city announced.

Projects that received the grants are all aimed at helping historically underserved communities close the digital divide. They do this by helping to provide connected devices or adequate digital skills training.

All told, seven nonprofit organizations in Colorado Springs got these grants as part of a program that was overseen by the city’s Office of Innovation. The money for the grants came to the city through the federal American Rescue Plan Act, and applications were evaluated by a committee of diverse city experts.

“Whether it is applying for a new job, going to school, or accessing needed services, having access to the digital devices and the skills to use them is critical in the digital age, especially since COVID-19,” said Carlos Tamayo, the city’s innovation manager, in a statement. “Closing the digital divide in Colorado Springs can only happen with the collaboration of our partners and we are proud to have funded eight different programs focused on digital equity.”

A full list of recipients and their grant-winning projects can be found here. (Zack Quaintance)


The Women in the Digital Economy Fund, a recently announced opportunity for public- and private-sector collaboration to advance digital gender equality, is seeking private-sector partners.

Announced this week by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, this call for partners marks the first step in the Fund’s launch. The Fund aims to bridge the global gender digital divide by scaling proven solutions and supporting digital literacy programming.

The Fund’s aim is to achieve five core results: access and affordability, relevant products and tools, literacy and skills, safety and security, and data and insights. In addition, when possible, the Fund will support women-led solutions, products and tools.

Organizations interested in partnering with USAID and the Gates Foundation to help implement initiatives must express their interest by May 26, and can do so on USAID’s website. (Julia Edinger)


New York City has announced the launch of the Staten Island Gigabit Center, following closely on the heels of last month’s launch of the Brooklyn Gigabit Center. The city has now launched a center in each of the five boroughs since 2022.

The centers play a role in the city’s work to bridge the digital divide. In the announcement, NYC CTO Matt Fraser underlined the center’s role in supporting an underserved population of immigrant workers and families in Staten Island.

The Staten Island Gigabit Center will provide free high-speed Internet access to day laborers, domestic workers and other low-wage immigrant workers. The center, located in La Colmena Community Job Center in the Stapleton Heights neighborhood, will also provide training workshops and English as a Second Language classes. (Julia Edinger)


The U.S. Department of Agriculture has announced it has $20 million to put toward broadband in rural communities.

Specifically, it has that money to “deliver broadband technical assistance resources for rural communities, and to support the development and expansion of broadband cooperatives,” according to a press release from the agency. That funding is being made available through the new Broadband Technical Assistance Program.

Other projects that program has supported include feasibility studies, completing network designs, and developing broadband financial assistance applications.

The new money is being made available through three funding categories, which are technical assistance providers, technical assistance recipients, and projects supporting cooperatives.

For more information on this money — including how to apply for it — interested parties should go here. (Zack Quaintance)


The FCC has a new form where people can share the experiences they’ve had with getting broadband access, the federal commission announced.

Appropriately dubbed the Broadband Access Experience Form, it is a way for consumers to let the federal government’s top telecommunications decision-makers know what it’s really like out there for people trying to get access to broadband. The creation of the form is the work of the FCC’s Task Force to Prevent Digital Discrimination.

As part of the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the FCC is tasked with getting reliable and affordable broadband access to everyone in the country. It is also charged with preventing digital discrimination.

“By sharing their broadband access stories, consumers will help the FCC to identify barriers experienced by historically unserved and underserved communities and inform the work of the Task Force,” the FCC wrote in its announcement.

Interested parties can share their experiences by completing the FCC’s form. (Zack Quaintance)


According to recently released research, fiber is essential to closing the digital divide. The white paper — which comes from the Fiber Broadband Association and Vantage Point Solutions — poses the question of whether unlicensed wireless can solve the rural digital divide. While noting that short-term advantages exist, the paper takes the position that the limitations outweigh the advantages.

The research outlines limitations of unlicensed wireless, including cost; it states that although the initial capital investment required is often lower, ongoing maintenance costs negate this advantage. Another limitation the paper details is that the spectrum itself limits broadband speed and capacity.

The paper designates fiber as the most future-proof broadband technology. (Julia Edinger)
Associate editor for Government Technology magazine.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for <i>Government Technology</i>. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.