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What’s New in Digital Equity: ‘Online For All’ Campaign Launches With Week of Action

Plus, the White House directs more funds toward rural Internet, Michigan announces statewide campaign to increase Affordable Connectivity Program enrollment, and more.

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 federal government and partners have launched a new campaign called Online For All, which is focused on achieving digital equity for students and starts with the Week of Action, a drive to increase enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program.

Online For All — described by the White House as an “all of government effort” — is being led by a partnership between the U.S. Department of Education and Civic Nation, a nonprofit network that works primarily in the education space. There are 300-some groups participating, and there is also a public-private partnership component, with support coming from Comcast, Verizon, Dell and other companies. A fact sheet from the Department of Education describes Online For All as “a digital equity campaign working to close the digital divide by focusing on Internet access, affordability, and equity for students, families, and all Americans.”

And as noted, it’s starting with the Week of Action, which is running through June 23. This is an effort to get more eligible participants to sign up for the Affordable Connectivity Program, a federal benefit to help those in need afford high-speed Internet.

The Week of Action will be supported by hundreds of events across the country. U.S. Secretary of Education Miguel Cordona held a virtual event alongside educators about the tools they need to keep their students and their families connected over the summer. On Friday, Boston-based Link Health is holding an event that features a related program for veterans. The Department of Education also plans to notify more than 5 million Pell Grant recipients about their eligibility for enrollment in the program. And the list goes on.

Civic Nation also released the Civic Nation Affordable Connectivity Program Pilot Report, which shows in part how successful community outreach can be for getting eligible households to enroll.

More information, along with a full list of participating partners, can be found via the Online For All website. A long list of other actions and efforts related to Online For All can be found via this White House fact sheet. (Zack Quaintance)


The federal government also continued to announce new funding for rural high-speed Internet this week.

Specifically, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced $714 million in grants and loans that will go toward connecting rural residents in 19 states. This money is part of the fourth funding round from the federal ReConnect Program, and the list of states that are home to the recipients includes Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, New Mexico, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and Washington.

The money is going to a wide range of projects, a full list of which is available here. (Zack Quaintance)


While a nationwide campaign has been launched by the Department of Education and Civic Nation to increase enrollment in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), Gov. Gretchen Whitmer launched a similar initiative in the state of Michigan.

The initiative, Michigan ACP Act Now, will involve a coalition of cities, community-based organizations and other trusted institutions in partnership with EducationSuperHighway to help expand access to affordable high-speed Internet.

EducationSuperHighway will train community leaders and partner organizations to offer outreach, education and tools to help enroll Michigan households. One tool,, is a virtual mobile assistant that will provide real-time support. Similar coalition-based initiatives have been launched recently in places like Rhode Island and Colorado. (Julia Edinger)


The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has launched two pilot programs for the California LifeLine Program that use Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) funding. One program is focused on wireline broadband services, while the other is focused on wireless broadband services. Both aim to help service providers combine the two subsidies, something that has sparked debate in the past.

A separate decision CPUC made approved about $951,000 from the California Advanced Services Fund Broadband Public Housing Account to support 14 projects from five applicants aimed at deploying both wireless and wireline broadband infrastructure for publicly supported housing developments — similar to a program in NYC. (Julia Edinger)


The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced a milestone last week as 127 applications have been received for support from the Public Wireless Supply Chain Innovation Fund.

“The overwhelming interest in this first round of funding shows the private sector is stepping up to meet that need,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Alan Davidson in the announcement.

NTIA will assess the applications and make the first round of awards in August 2023, aiming to support a range of R&D activities related to network interoperability. Applicants have requested $146 million for R&D and $1.2 billion for testing and evaluation. (Julia Edinger)


The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has received 252 written comments related to the Digital Equity Act.

The comment window for this closed on May 1, and in addition to these written comments, the NTIA also hosted four public listening sessions. These comments will now help to inform the design and implementation of the $1.44 billion State Digital Equity Capacity Grant program, as well as the $1.25 billion Digital Equity Competitive Grant program. These programs are focused primarily on promoting the adoption and meaningful use of the Internet by underrepresented groups, including low-income households, veterans, rural residents, racial minorities and more.

“By incorporating diverse perspectives, NTIA can ensure that these programs truly meet the needs of those most impacted by a lack of connection, and that our work will make meaningful progress toward achieving digital equity,” NTIA officials wrote in a statement.

More information can be found here. (Zack Quaintance)
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.