Towns/Cities/Counties Can Apply by Oct. 20
NDIA is now accepting applications for 2023 Digital Inclusion Trailblazers.

Over the past seven years, NDIA recognized 39 cities, towns, and counties as Digital Inclusion Trailblazers. This year, NDIA is proud to introduce updates to Trailblazers categories, indicators, and scoring that reflect current best practices and advancements in local government digital inclusion.

Incorporating the expertise of a working group of NDIA affiliates, we updated the Trailblazers categories and indicators and added some new ones this year. We included digital navigators, asset mapping, and coalition building as indicators to reflect emerging trends and to uplift the critical role these programs and strategies play in digital inclusion.

Digital Inclusion Trailblazers are municipal, county, or regional governments that are paving the way and providing excellent models for digitally inclusive communities. They are intentional. They are invested. They are committed to advancing digital equity.

New Categories
Photo of a formal, legislative room. Seven people are standing in the background by flags, while a Black woman in a white suit signs a paper.
We identified seven categories that exemplify how local governments can take action and have an outstanding impact on local digital inclusion ecosystems. Each category contains related indicators, which are specific resources and initiatives that demonstrate progress in that area.

Digital Inclusion Trailblazers take action in the following categories:

  1. Dedicate Resources
  2. Fund and Aid Digital Inclusion Programs
  3. Participate in Digital Inclusion Ecosystem
  4. Engage the Community
  5. Advance Digital Inclusion Through Policy
  6. Use Data to Inform Digital Inclusion
  7. Create a Local Digital Inclusion Plan
Levels of Recognition
Starting this year, there are two levels of recognition possible for communities that meet certain thresholds out of 23 possible points. Local governments that score five points or more are recognized as Digital Inclusion Trailblazers. This level of achievement recognizes excellent digital inclusion work, while keeping the program accessible to a diverse range of local governments regardless of community size, type, or resources available.

Outstanding Digital Inclusion Trailblazers, scoring 18 points or more, are communities that have deeply integrated digital inclusion throughout their government. They are leading the way in digital inclusion innovation.


  • Digital Inclusion Trailblazer: 5-17 points
  • Outstanding Digital Inclusion Trailblazer: 18 points and above
Who Can Apply?

Any local government may apply annually during the application window to be a Digital Inclusion Trailblazer, including:


  • Municipalities
  • Townships
  • Counties
  • Regional governments

Please Note: NDIA is currently working with Tribal partners to design a program to recognize Tribes that are leading outstanding digital inclusion efforts. Please stay tuned and join the NDIA community for regular updates. NDIA also offers the opportunity for individual leaders to be recognized through the annual Benton Digital Equity Champion awards.

The Trailblazers recognition isn’t just an award — it’s also a collection of valuable resources. The places selected as Trailblazers provide models to aspire to, demonstrating how local governments can support their own digital inclusion ecosystems. 

Digital inclusion advocates should also use Trailblazers as an advocacy tool. If your local government(s) already has digital inclusion initiatives, apply them to apply by October 20. If they don’t, throughout the year, you can make use of the Trailblazers program and its valuable repository of resources (which will be publicly available after selection). Trailblazers can serve as a beacon to inform their own path to digital equity.

Submit your application by October 20, 2023 at 5 p.m. ET.


Thanks to the 2023 Digital Inclusion Trailblazers sponsor