Get Involved in State Planning (for State & Local Offices)
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 state and local offices seeking to engage adult education and immigrant service providers as they 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.)
As of December 23, 2022, all 50 states have received their State Planning Grant funds. States now have a year from the time they received funding to create their Digital Equity Plan. This process includes convening key stakeholders, disbursing funds to subgrantees for assistance in planning (if proposed), collecting data on the barriers to digital equity faced by covered populations, and soliciting and responding to public comments on a draft plan. States can check the date they received funding on the Internet for All map.
Without a complete Digital Equity Plan, states will not be able to apply for implementation funding via the State Capacity Grant.
Adult education should be a critical component of every state’s Digital Equity Act planning and implementation strategy. Access Adult Education in Focus: An Annotated State Digital Equity Plan Template for 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.
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.
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Each state’s DEA administering entity has one year from the date they are awarded funding to create their Digital Equity Plan. States can check the date they received funding on the Internet for All map.
A complete Digital Equity Plan will be part of the application for the next round of funding, the State Digital Equity Capacity Grant. Funding from the Capacity Grant will support states in implementing their Digital Equity Plan for five years.