IE 11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

What’s New in Digital Equity: NTIA Accepts Digital Equity Plans for All 50 States

Plus, new legislation aims to increase digital skills training opportunities, two Ohio initiatives aim to increase digital equity, a new grant program for digital services was announced in Colorado, and more.

Map of USA with light-colored dots and lines represents networks across the US.
Shutterstock/Blue Planet Studio
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:


The most significant digital equity news this week is that all 50 states, as well as Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C., have now had their digital equity plans accepted by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. These acceptances have been rolling in for the past several months, starting with Maine in February. The final states to have their plans accepted were Mississippi, Colorado, Utah, Iowa, New Mexico and Illinois on April 11.

These plans were created thanks to support from the State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program, which provided various amounts of funding to states. However, for states, the digital equity work has just begun. These plans outline the work ahead of them.

On March 29, NTIA launched a $1.44 billion Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program, which will help support the implementation of these plans. It is the second of three digital equity programs funded through the Digital Equity Act. This program will help make funds available to put the plans into action.

In addition, a Notice of Funding Opportunity establishes a process to make funds from this program available to native entities to carry out their own digital inclusion work consistent with the Digital Equity Act; proposed projects must include measurable objectives.

Next in this space, NTIA will launch the Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program in the coming months. This $1.25 billion program will fund annual grant programs for five years.

These three programs were created via the Digital Equity Act, which provided $2.75 billion for their establishment. (Julia Edinger)


The Digital Skills for Today’s Workforce Act was introduced in Congress Wednesday. This bipartisan, bicameral legislation would establish a new grant program called “Digital Skills at Work.”

Because digital skills training is not currently an allowable use under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), workforce development career centers do not offer digital skills training. This newly introduced legislation would amend WIOA to establish the new grant program and expand this type of training within postsecondary education, adult education and workforce development systems.

“The resources in the Digital Equity Act are great, but Congress needs to invest in digital skill-building across other landmark workforce policies,” said Amanda Bergson-Shilcock in a LinkedIn post celebrating the legislation’s introduction. Bergson-Shilcock is a National Skills Coalition senior fellow and author of the report that found 92 percent of jobs now require digital skills.

More information about the legislation can be found in the full bill text. (Julia Edinger)


In other state news, there are several initiatives underway in Ohio to improve digital equity.

First, BroadbandOhio is partnering with the city of Cleveland and a local nonprofit called DigitalC to create a broadband network offering high-speed Internet service across Cleveland, which the National Digital Inclusion Alliance deemed the worst-connected large city in 2019. The project is expected to break ground this month, with the goal of providing all 170,000 households in Cleveland access to broadband by the middle of 2024. With pricing set at $18 a month for 10 years, allowing for inflation changes after five years, this project will provide the city with an affordable option — which becomes increasingly critical as a major federal Internet subsidy program nears its end.

In other news from the Buckeye State, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown announced a new investment for skills training at two community colleges, helping prepare students for jobs in high-speed Internet expansion and other growing industries. (Julia Edinger)


The Colorado Statewide Internet Portal Authority has launched a new grant program aimed at supporting civic tech in the state, officials have announced.

The program is called SIPA GovGrants, and it will distribute awards that start at $25,000. The grants will go to fund civic tech work at all levels of government in Colorado, with a focus on improving the efficiency of service delivery for residents. Government recipients eligible for these awards include state agencies, city and county governments, schools, higher education institutions and special districts.

Proposals from potential recipients will be evaluated by the Statewide Internet Portal Authority’s board of directors. The application period opened Monday and runs through June 21.

More information about these grants — including a link to the application — can be found via the Statewide Internet Portal Authority’s website. (Zack Quaintance)


In local news, the city of Albuquerque, N.M.’s Department of Senior Affairs is partnering with local nonprofit organizations to host its annual technology training event targeting senior citizens in the community.

“We created this tech fair to help increase access to digital resources and improve overall quality of life among older adults by making sure they feel comfortable using the latest technology,” said Director of Senior Affairs Anna Sanchez in the announcement.

The event, known as 50+ Senior Tech Connect, will be held tomorrow at the Manzano Mesa Multigenerational Center. The free event aims to bridge the digital divide for this population, covering topics ranging from smartphone basics to cybersecurity. (Julia Edinger)


A research report published by the Benton Institute for Broadband and Society, authored by EveryoneOn CEO Norma Fernandez, explores the digital skills journey of underserved women in the U.S., specifically of Black and Latina women.

The study found that participants wanted to enhance their digital skills. And while they often must balance domestic responsibilities with participating in skills training, family support as well as that from community partners helps facilitate their participation. Finally, the report underlines, women who attended a digital skills training program cited a newfound confidence which “extended beyond their digital endeavors.”

In the U.S., a gender digital divide exists, but there is limited research on the issue. As states move to implement their digital equity plans, the report underlines the importance of centering women in this work. (Julia Edinger)


A February 2023 report found that 92 percent of jobs now require digital skills. With the emergence of artificial intelligence, digital skills training programs may increasingly aim to include AI skills — a forecasted trend that was also highlighted in a National Association of State Chief Information Officers report Wednesday.

A Salesforce report published last week found that 60 percent of public-sector IT professionals noted a shortage in AI skills as a primary barrier to AI implementation. In fact, the research found that the AI skills gap in the public sector is greater than the industry average.

While the report suggests that AI unlocks opportunities for increased efficiency in the public sector, only 30 percent of public-sector IT professionals consider themselves AI implementation experts. (Julia Edinger)
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.
Associate editor for <i>Government Technology</i> magazine.