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.)
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. NTIA is compiling a list of all draft State Digital Equity Plans on this page.
Adult education should be a critical component of every State Digital Equity Plan. Our State Digital Equity Plan checklist for adult education identifies three key areas where adult education providers and adult learners should be engaged:
- In the development of the State Digital Equity Plan (dark grey), to ensure the inclusion of adult learner voices and adult education expertise;
- In the proposed implementation strategies (teal) listed in the State Digital Equity Plan, to ensure effective services for adult learners and other individuals with a language barrier; and
- During the public comment process (orange), to ensure awareness and accessibility of the State Digital Equity Plan and the public comment process for adult learners and their communities.
Our resource, Adult Education in Focus: An Annotated State Digital Equity Plan Template, provides further 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.
If you’re interested in learning more about adult education and/or connecting with the adult education system in your state, contact Catalina González at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 Checklist for Adult Education – World Education: A checklist identifying three key areas where adult education providers and adult learners should be engaged in the State Digital Equity Plan development and implementation process.
- 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.
- 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.