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What’s New in Digital Equity: Michigan Builds Digital Skills

Plus, Massachusetts has added three members to its digital accessibility board, a federal resource on digital literacy aims to support community needs, and more.

Amid networks, three hands present virtual puzzle pieces.
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:


In state news this week, the Michigan High Speed Internet Office (MIHI) launched a $13 million grant program to improve digital inclusion.

Through the program — Michigan’s Inclusive Training, Technology and Equity Network (MITTEN) — applicants can apply to be regional resource hubs and host sites, enabling the state’s digital navigators to address community-specific needs, especially in underrepresented, underinvested and underserved areas. MIHI will work with local institutions and state agencies to coordinate navigators’ efforts and to provide support and resources.

The goal is to focus on broadband adoption and essential digital skill building through targeted community programs.

“Each of our state’s communities face unique barriers as it relates to their ability to adequately access and utilize high-speed Internet,” Eric Frederick, chief connectivity officer for MIHI, said in a news release. “Digital navigators will help lead on-the-ground efforts … to bridge the digital divide.”

The MITTEN request for proposals is the first step, which entails finding and creating host sites to support this work. Applications will close on July 24. More information can be found on the state’s website.

This program builds on MIHI’s other work to bridge the digital divide for Michiganders, which included hosting 41 meetings throughout the state on the 2023 MI Connected Future listening tour. This helped MIHI understand community-specific needs and digital literacy gaps, which the MITTEN program aims to help address.

The digital navigator program has proven to be an impactful model of digital skills training nationwide since it was launched in 2020 to help mitigate digital access needs elevated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, digital skills are an essential part of participating in society, with 92 percent of jobs requiring them.


In related news, the Massachusetts Executive Office of Technology Services and Security (EOTSS) has announced the confirmation of three new members of the Digital Accessibility and Equity Governance Board.

Gov. Maura Healey established the board in July 2023 with Executive Order 614; it’s chaired by Ashley Bloom, the state’s first chief IT accessibility officer.

The new members, Larry Goldberg, Minh Ha and David Kingsbury, deliver on EOTSS’ request for members of the public to apply. They will serve for two-year terms. More information about the new members and the board’s broader work can be found on the state’s website.


The launch of a new federal resource,, aims to help improve digital, financial and health literacy in communities.
Screenshot of ILMS resource at Headline reads: Information Literacy Resources for Library and Museum Professionals
Screenshot of ILMS resource at
The website, from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), offers specialized tools and resources to support library and museum professionals in developing these skills, both for themselves and the community members they serve. This follows a 2022 direction from Congress and the White House calling for IMLS to find ways to improve information literacy.

“We want to empower these trusted library and museum professionals who play a critical role in helping improve digital, financial, and health literacy to serve the needs of diverse communities,” said IMLS Acting Director Cyndee Landrum in a news release.


A statement from Vice President Kamala Harris highlights new federal actions taken to help improve access to affordable Internet service. This is especially important in the wake of the Affordable Connectivity Program coming to an end. Harris acknowledged that while active, it helped 23 million households save on their monthly bills.

She highlighted two new actions in the statement June 26. First, she announced the administration is finalizing a rule to allow schools and libraries to use funding from the Federal Communications Commission E-rate program for Wi-Fi hot spots, which is expected to be particularly impactful for rural areas and low-income populations. Second, the state of Nevada is being awarded $9 million through the Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program, marking the first award of the $1.4 billion program.


At the local level, the June 27 Tempe City Council meeting yielded approval of a new fiber license and a right-of-way use agreement to help Internet service providers construct and maintain fiber-optic networks. The goal is to provide access to affordable, high-speed Internet for the whole community.

Providers will be able to either negotiate an agreement to provide materials or services to the city, pay a yearly fee of 2 percent of their service revenue, or pay a yearly fee based on the space their facilities occupy.

Applicants can obtain licenses through the city’s Public Works Department. Find more information about the Citywide Fiber Initiative on the city’s website.
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. 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.