Office of Broadband Development urges MN to play role in Digital Equity Plan

The Office of Broadband Development is reaching out to folks to join the effort to get better broadband…

Lack of affordable internet access, lack of an internet-enabled device, and limited digital skills aren’t just an inconvenience. They hold people back from educational and employment opportunities, civic engagement, timely and affordable health care, and staying connected with friends and family. 

Some communities and individuals may be more likely to lack digital access and may have a greater need for digital skills training, including older Minnesotans, people who live in rural communities, Black Minnesotans, Indigenous people, people of color, and others. Digital access and skills are needed to engage with school and education, find employment, access health care resources and more. That’s why efforts to achieve digital equity are so important.  

DEED’s Office of Broadband Development (OBD) is developing a digital equity plan to create improvements in internet affordability, access to internet-enabled devices, and ways to provide digital skills training. We want to hear from Minnesotans most impacted by the digital access and skills gap to ensure our digital equity plan reflects the goals and needs of all Minnesotans. This plan will help us determine how to spend federal funding coming in 2024 aimed at increasing digital access and skills. 

Cities, counties, schools, libraries, faith communities, businesses, internet providers, nonprofits, and other organizations are encouraged to form Digital Connection Committees and partner with us to share these critical insights. We’re hoping these committees can gather information about local digital inclusion strengths, needs, and goals, and then share summaries with OBD. Information can be gathered however it works best for a community or organization. It could be a conversation circle, a survey, an asset inventory of existing digital inclusion resources – or some other way. The workload is flexible, and we look forward to working with Digital Connection Committees to bring creative ideas to life. 

Committees are especially encouraged to include members who are: 

  • 60 or older 
  • Currently or formerly incarcerated 
  • Current or former members of the U.S. military 
  • Black, Indigenous, and People of Color 
  • People with disabilities 
  • Low-income households 
  • Learning to speak or read English 
  • Living in rural communities. 

To help support the work of Digital Connection Committees, OBD will provide resources, templates, and general guidance. OBD is also offering optional, non-competitive mini-grants to eligible Digital Connection Committees. To receive a mini-grant, committees can apply by filling out a short application by March 3, 2023.  

In addition, Digital Connection Committees need to complete this form to register with our office by March 15, 2023, and complete their work by June 30 of this year. 

Find more details on DEED’s OBD website

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