An unprecedented variety of public and nonprofit leaders are engaged in efforts to overcome the digital divides that afflict our disadvantaged neighbors and neighborhoods.  This is affirmed by today’s announcement that President Obama is unveiling ConnectALL, an initiative to help Americans from across the country, at every income level, get online and have the tools to take full advantage of the Internet. Here’s the highlights of what was announced in the Fact Sheet and what we think of them:

  • Support for the FCC to modernize the Lifeline Program into a 21st century national broadband subsidy. Yes, yes, yes. NDIA has been actively engaged in the process to modernize Lifeline. We are happy to see the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA) step into the conversation. We particularly like NTIA’s reminder that digital literacy skills help increase home broadband subscription.
  • Creation of an AmeriCorps VISTA Digital Literacy Pilot Program for libraries, museums and associated community organizations located in tribal and rural communities. Yes, yes, yes. NDIA suggested to the White House’s Broadband Opportunity Council that the Corporation for National and Community Service define broadband adoption as a focus area. A digital literacy pilot project is a good first step. We assume, they will adopt best practices and learn from the NDIA Affiliate, the Community Technology Empowerment Project, an AmeriCorps project bridging the “digital divide” for new immigrants and low-income communities in Minneapolis and St. Paul.
  • Planning a convening of leaders in the philanthropic, non-profit, and private sectors to increase access to resources to support digital inclusion efforts under way in communities across the country. Yes, yes, yes. When the White House was asking for suggestions of what they could do, we put this idea on our short list. We need open discussions on how increasing broadband access and use benefits bottom lines and strengthens communities, along with detailed conversations on how to have the greatest impact. In the meantime, we welcome all to join us at Net Inclusion: The National Digital Inclusion Summit hosted by NDIA and the Kansas City Public Library on May 18-19.
  • Launching of the Community Connectivity Initiative to empower more communities with strategies to support and accelerate local broadband planning efforts. Yes, yes, yes. When we formed NDIA in the spring of 2015 we assumed the majority of local digital equity work was rooted in community-based organizations and libraries. Turns out we had under-estimated local government interest. They invited themselves to our party and we are certainly happy they did. Of NDIA’s 167 affiliated organizations, 16 are municipal government bodies. The Community Connectivity Initiative will be a valuable tool for gathering data and pulling together partners. NDIA is proud to have provided input and we are proud to continue to do so.

It is truly an incredible day.