Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion Award

Charles Benton

The fifth Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion Award is officially open for nominations! Two awards will be given: One will recognize an outstanding individual who has made a difference in the field of digital equity; the other will acknowledge an up-and-coming digital inclusion practitioner.

Do you know a digital equity champion? Potential nominees are longtime veterans of the digital inclusion field and new and passionate supporters of digital equity. We are looking for everyone making a difference! The award will be presented in April at Net Inclusion 2020 in Portland, Oregon, by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA).

The deadline for nominations for this year’s award is midnight Eastern Daylight Time on February 14, 2020.


Named for Charles Benton, the founder of the Benton Foundation (now Benton Institute for Broadband & Society), the award was created by NDIA to recognize leadership and dedication in advancing digital equity: from promoting the ideal of accessible and affordable communications technology for all Americans in crafting programs and policies that make it a reality.

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance is a unified voice for home broadband access, public broadband access, personal devices and local technology training and support programs.  We work collaboratively to craft, identify and disseminate financial and operational resources for digital inclusion programs while serving as a bridge to policymakers and the general public.

The Net Inclusion 2020 conference will be held April 7-9 in Portland, OR. Register before February 8th to receive the early bird discount. We welcome practitioners, policymakers, academics, public officials, students and others engaged in creating a more equitable society.


To be successful, nominees should exhibit:

  • Sustained commitment to digital inclusion programs, practices, and/or policy work,
  • Applied innovative approaches to addressing and solving problems,
  • Extensive use of data and evaluation to shape digital inclusion programs and share best practices,
  • Demonstrated leadership in his/her community, and/or
  • Collaboration that can be scaled and replicated.

Meet the 2019 Champions

The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) announced the 2019 Charles Benton Digital Equity Champion Award winners: PCs for People CEO Casey Sorensen and San Antonio Housing Authority Digital Inclusion Program Manager Munirih Jester.

Casey SorensenSorensen has headed PCs for People for over 11 years and crafted a self-sustainable, scalable social enterprise that is a national leader in digital inclusion. Under Sorensen’s leadership, PCs for People has grown from concept to a network of 300 nonprofits, 12 affiliates, and physical offices in three states that are working together to solve the digital divide. As a result of Sorensen’s efforts, over 250,000 people now have home computers and 128,000 people can  access the internet in their home. PCs for People is based in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Munirih JesterMunirih Jester serves as the Digital Inclusion ConnectHome Coordinator for the San Antonio Housing Authority (SAHA). Originally from Brazil, Munirih’s professional background is in Public Policy, Nonprofit Management, and Urban and Regional Planning. In her role as ConnectHome Coordinator, she has been able to deliver digital literacy skills training to nearly 2,000 participants, award nearly 900 free computers, and help connect 1,069 homes to the internet.

Read More…

David Keyes

Meet the 2018 Champion

Deb serves as the founding Executive Director of Next Century Cities, a national nonprofit that supports community leaders working to secure fast, affordable, and reliable Internet for their localities.  With more than 180 members, Next Century Cities brings visibility to broadband issues and informs policy at multiple levels, celebrating local initiative and successes. Before joining NCC, she directed the Tech Goes Home program in Boston, a carefully designed digital equity program that became a national model for linking parents, children and schools to technology resources.  Read More…

David Keyes

Meet the 2017 Champion

Since joining the NTIA in 2009, Tseng has worked to increase broadband access and adoption in underserved communities throughout the United States. From 2009 to 2014, she managed a portfolio of local government and K-12 education grants for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. She was a major contributor to the Broadband Adoption Toolkit published by NTIA in 2013. She continues her work with NTIA’s BroadbandUSA program providing technical assistance to local and state governments that foster digital equity.  Read More…

David Keyes

Meet the 2016 Champion

Over nearly 20 years of public service in Seattle, David Keyes has used data to document community needs and direct programs, been committed to racial and social justice, and built a movement over time by engaging local elected officials, businesses, education partners, and community organizations in solutions. Read More…

Eligibility for this award is limited to U.S. residents. NDIA Staff, Consultants and Board of Directors are not eligible.

The nomination form can be completed here.

The Champion will be selected by a committee representing diverse constituencies, geographies, and sectors with an interest in digital inclusion, including NDIA and the Benton Foundation.