Get Involved in State Planning (for Community Organizations & Advocates)
The Digital Equity Act presents an unprecedented opportunity to ensure digital equity and inclusion for everyone in the U.S. This page provides guidance for adult education programs, immigrant-serving organizations, and other community organizations on how to get involved in their state’s Digital Equity Plan planning process.
What is a State Digital Equity Plan?
A state’s plan must include the following:
- The barriers to digital equity faced by covered populations in the state
- Measurable objectives for
- availability and affordability of broadband access, devices, and technical support
- digital literacy
- online accessibility of public services
- individual online privacy and cybersecurity
- An assessment of how the above objectives will impact and interact with the State’s economic, educational, health, social, and other outcomes
- A description of how the State will collaborate with key stakeholders to achieve the above objectives, including including community anchor institutions; nonprofit organizations; organizations that represent covered populations; civil rights organizations; workforce development program providers; State agencies administering adult education activities; public housing authorities; and/or partnerships between any of the above.
- A list of organizations with which the State’s administering entity collaborated on the Digital Equity Plan
Where are we now?
(Timeline from NTIA’s Digital Equity Act Programs Overview fact sheet.)
Over the past year, States have been drafting their Digital Equity Plans using their State Digital Equity Planning Grant funding. This process includes convening key stakeholders, disbursing funds to subgrantees for assistance in planning (if proposed), and collecting data on the barriers to digital equity faced by covered populations.
Before States finalize their State Digital Equity Plans, they are required to publish the drafts of their plans and solicit public input: States must hold a public comment period of at least thirty (30) days, consider all comments received during this public comment period, and incorporate any “worthwhile” comments. As of July 2023, multiple states have released their drafts for public comment.
View World Education’s Digital Equity Act tracker to learn who is leading Digital Equity Act work in your state, what public and stakeholder engagement opportunities your state is holding, and if your state has published their draft Digital Equity Plan for public comment.
This sheet is frequently updated, and World Education invites all stakeholders to submit any additional information they may have to support others’ advocacy efforts.
How do I get involved?
- Identify how your work connects to the Digital Equity Act using our Getting Started with Digital Equity Act Advocacy for Community-Based Organizations worksheet.
- Read our call to action for adult education leadership to understand why adult education involvement in the Digital Equity Act is critical.
- Identify who is leading Digital Equity Act work in your state using our Digital Equity Act tracker, and participate in any public and stakeholder engagement activities your state is holding.
- Identify what areas of the State Digital Equity Plan development and implementation process you are best positioned to be involved in, and contact the office leading Digital Equity Act work in your state to be included.
- Our Adult Education in Focus: An Annotated State Digital Equity Plan Template resource provides detailed guidance to adult education leaders, advocates, and providers on how adult education can support States in their work.
- Advocate for others in your field to also be included in State Digital Equity Plan development and implementation.
- Submit a public comment when your State publishes their draft Digital Equity Plan.
- Read our newest blog post to learn more about the public comment process and what adult education leaders and advocates should look for when reading their State Digital Equity Plans.
- Share your updates with World Education to support others’ advocacy efforts!
Guidance & Resources for Getting Started
- Digital Equity Now: A Call to Action for Adult Education Leadership – World Education: A blog post summarizing the Digital Equity Act and why the adult education field needs to get involved.
- Digital Equity Act Leads & Activities by State – World Education: A list of DEA administering entities and stakeholder engagement activities by state.
- Getting Started with Digital Equity Act Advocacy for Community-Based Organizations – World Education: A fillable, customizable worksheet to help community organizations connect five core areas of the DEA to their work so that they can better advocate for themselves to their state administering entities and leaders.
- Adult Education in Focus: An Annotated State Digital Equity Plan Template – World Education: Detailed guidance on 1) why adult learners need to be included in State Digital Equity Plans, and 2) how adult education can support the development and implementation of State Digital Equity Plans, section by section.
- Digital Equity for All: Adult Education and State Digital Equity Planning – World Education: A customizable slide deck for adult education leaders and advocates who are meeting with their states’ DEA administering entities and working groups to discuss why adult education and adult learners should be included in the State Digital Equity Plan development and implementation process.
- Digital Equity for All: Immigrants and Refugees in State Digital Equity Planning – World Education: A customizable slide deck for immigrant and refugee serving organizations that are meeting with their states’ DEA administering entities and working groups to discuss why immigrants and refugees should be included in the State Digital Equity Plan development and implementation process.
- Read, Write, Advocate! State Digital Equity Plans Now Out for Public Comment – World Education: A blog post detailing the public comment process for State Digital Equity Plans and why adult education leaders, advocates, and learners need to act now. Includes a checklist to help the field identify what to look for as they read their State Digital Equity Plan.
- Implementing the New Digital Equity Act: What Workforce and Education Advocates Need to Know – National Skills Coalition: A brief on the Digital Equity Act geared towards advocates in workforce, higher education, and adult education.
- Gearing Up for the Digital Equity Act with Libraries – National Skills Coalition: Recording and slides from a webinar on how libraries can leverage DEA funding.
- Blog posts on Digital Equity Act – National Digital Inclusion Alliance: Key updates on the Digital Equity Act for digital inclusion advocates.
- Internet for All Map: Interactive map with contacts, program statuses, and funding allocations by state.
NTIA Guidance & Resources for State Digital Equity Planning
- Internet for All Map: Interactive map with contacts, program statuses, and funding allocations by state.
- Digital Equity Programs – BroadbandUSA: The DEA landing page on NTIA’s BroadbandUSA site, with planning guidance and technical assistance for states. Topics include digital equity and inclusion, aligning DEA and BEAD, local coordination, and stakeholder engagement.
- Digital Equity Plan Guidance: Guidance on how to structure and what to include in the Digital Equity Plan to meet all the requirements.
- State Digital Equity Plan Template: Optional template to support states in capturing notes and developing their Digital Equity Plans.
- NEW! Digital Equity Model Plan Guidance: This resource provides guidance on the requirements for the State Digital Equity Plan and guidance on how to create a Digital Equity Plan that goes beyond compliance.
- NEW! Soliciting Public Comments: A guide for States on posting Digital Equity Plans for public comment.
- Digital Equity Guide for the States: Includes the basics of digital equity, an overview of the DEA, and best practices for preparing and executing State Digital Equity Plans.
- Asset Mapping Guide: Data Equity Gathering Best Practices: Guidance on asset mapping for digital equity planning.
- State Digital Equity Plan: External Best Practices: Examples of well-formed digital equity plans that may serve as helpful references.
- Notice of Funding Opportunity for State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program
- Digital Equity Act FAQs – BroadbandUSA: The official FAQ document on the DEA. Last updated on June 6, 2022.
- State & Local Government Resources – BroadbandUSA: Resources for state and local governments on digital equity and inclusion and broadband planning.
Other Guidance & Resources for State Digital Equity Planning
- State Digital Equity Plan Toolkit – National Digital Inclusion Alliance: Best practices, recommended processes, templates, and tools to support states in designing robust, comprehensive Digital Equity Plans.
- Using Data To Advance Digital Skills: A State Playbook – National Governors Association: Key questions and resources for state leaders to consider around digital skills gaps.
- Lessons Learned In Workforce Innovation: How Six States Are Planning To Advance Digital Skills For Equitable Economic Participation: Lessons learned and case studies from six states for governors and state policymakers working to bridge the digital divide, plus a framework for creating state plans to advance digital skills.
- Advancing Digital Equity for All: Community-Based Recommendations for Developing Effective Digital Equity Plans to Close the Digital Divide and Enable Technology-Empowered Learning – U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology: Guidance for state leaders on developing plans that meet the needs of learners, their families/caregivers, and communities.
- Affordable Connectivity Plan Enrollment and Digital Equity Planning – Benton Institute: Guidance for policymakers on how Affordable Connectivity Plan enrollment data can be used during a state’s Digital Equity Plan planning process.
- NEW! Maximizing the Impact of Digital Access and Inclusion by Using OER – #GoOpen: A guide for strengthening State Digital Equity Plans by encouraging the adoption and use of open educational resources (OER) and other open licensing strategies.
- Expanding Digital Inclusion via the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law – National Skills Coalition: Recommendations for state officials and skills advocates on using DEA funds to improve the economic and civic life of their communities.
- Digital Equity Planning: 10 Recommendations for States & Cities – Digitunity: Recommendations on developing systems to expand access to free and/or low-cost devices.
- Digital Equity State Playbook – Microsoft Airband: Guidance on DEA planning and program design for state offices.
- Examining Gaps in Digital Inclusion as States Develop Their Digital Equity Plans – American Immigration Council: Fact sheet with data to inform policymakers and advocates of the gaps in access to broadband internet among various covered individuals.
- Closing the Digital Divide Benefits Everyone, Not Just the Unconnected – Common Sense: An analysis of how universal connectivity benefits education, health care, government, and employment, plus recommendations for state broadband leaders.
- The State of Digital Equity – EveryoneOn: Recommendations to help guide state and local leaders as they allocate DEA funds in their communities.
- Bridging the Digital Divide: Policy Proposals to Increase Broadband Access for All – The NewDEAL Forum: Outlines initiatives and policy efforts to provide a blueprint for how other states and cities can tackle their broadband needs and inequities.
- Accelerate: A Community Broadband Planning Program – Benton Institute: A guide for state and local leaders engaging in community broadband planning and partnerships.
- Leverage Libraries to Achieve Digital Equity for All – American Library Association: Illustrates libraries’ longstanding work to advance digital equity and makes the case for policymakers to draw on the expertise of library professionals in designing state and local digital equity plans.
States have one year from the date they are awarded State Digital Equity Planning Grant funding to draft and finalize their Digital Equity Plan. For the next round of funding, the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant, States will be required to not only submit their finalized Digital Equity Plans, but also describe any changes they made to their plans in response to public comments and write a response to each comment they received.
Funding from the State Capacity Grant will support states in implementing their Digital Equity Plan over five years. Once states have received their State Capacity Grant funding, NTIA will solicit applications for the Digital Equity Competitive Grant, for which a number of entities are eligible.