Help Is Available for State and Local Digital Equity Planning


The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act includes more than $42 billion for states to use to forward digital equity.State and local governments are in the last months of finalizing their plans for making the most of this historic investment.Nonprofits and academic organizations have developed rich resources to clarify what “digital equity” encompasses and to highlight best practices for achieving it.The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) defines digital equity as “the condition in which individuals and communities have the information technology capacity that is needed for full participation in the society and economy of the United States.” The bill allocated more than $42 billion to a Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program to help states make digital equity a reality.The sectors of the population most likely to be behind the information technology curve are those most affected by housing shortages, heightened health risks and jobs that don’t deliver a true living wage. Digital tools and skills will bring opportunities to lift these Americans, and their communities.These opportunities won’t come immediately, however. The IIJA was signed in 2021, but the four-year implementation phase for BEAD won’t begin until 2024.At the end of June, the Biden-Harris administration announced the state-by-state allocations of $42.45 billion in BEAD funding. (See map below.) Calculations for these grants started from a baseline of $100 million for each state, then took into account the number of unserved locations and the prevalence of demographic or topographic factors that could make broadband deployment cost more.States are to submit initial proposals for using their allocations to the National Telecommunications and Informati …

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