The good news just keeps getting better! Last week NTIA opened its State Digital Equity Grant Program NOFO, making available $811 Million for States, US Territories, and Native Entities (see our blog about that here).

And today, we’re excited to announce that NDIA’s State Digital Equity Implementation Manual is live!

As you know, this is the first time in our country’s history that we have the opportunity to create and implement systems that will enable true digital equity. Many states now have dedicated digital equity staff, a few have established digital equity offices, and soon, each will have a digital equity plan that provides a baseline understanding of the current landscape—including the assets and gaps—and strategies for developing equitable, robust ecosystems to fill those gaps.

In December of 2022, NDIA released our State Digital Equity Plan Toolkit–the essential guide for all states, territories, and DC–to build a state digital equity plan.

Our sequel to that toolkit is the State Digital Equity Implementation Manual which will support states, territories, and DC implement the digital equity plans and create sustainable, robust statewide digital inclusion ecosystems. It’s a comprehensive guide to turning the state digital equity plans into action.

While the manual was meant to coincide with the release of the Capacity Grant Program NOFO, it does not provide official guidance for meeting the requirements that NTIA has outlined in its NOFO. Instead, it offers general best practices for establishing and implementing digital inclusion strategies statewide. And while written for states, territories and DC, we hope the manual is a valuable tool for digital inclusion practitioners to glean best practices and ideas too.

Each chapter includes information, resources, and best practices from our community and affiliates. The manual’s chapters are:  

  • Building a State Digital Inclusion Ecosystem
  • Developing Implementation Strategies
  • Implementation Best Practices
  • Best Practices for Serving Covered Populations
  • Performance Measurement, Program Evaluation, and Sustainability

This manual wouldn’t be possible without the support and expertise of our NDIA community and affiliates who provided their on-the-ground knowledge and experience. Our partners, Dr. Colin Rhinesmith and Digitunity, lent their expertise and contributed to the manual. And our generous partner, AARP, sponsored the manual. Their support was invaluable, and we’re eternally grateful.

As novel and exciting as the nationwide, simultaneous implementation of digital equity plans will be, the implementation phase of the DEA will not solve digital exclusion overnight. Some strategies, as outlined in the plans, will take many years, even decades, to bear fruit. Others may have a more immediate impact. Yet, each milestone or implementation phase met means we’re one step closer to achieving digital equity. And, with digital equity we all win. 

Now, let’s get to work.