Get Involved with Digital Equity Projects
Get Involved with Digital Equity Projects

By Liz Shay, Senior Grants Development Consultant

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA, also known as the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law or BIL) has brought unprecedented funding to support broadband initiatives. To go along with that funding, there are also huge investments being made in digital equity efforts. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is distributing this funding through two main programs: the State Digital Equity Grant Program and the Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program (for more information on this program, see page Both programs will support digital equity projects that involve a wide range of organizations. With expected deadlines starting in the next several months and continuing over the next few years, now is an exciting time for your organization to participate in these efforts!

The goal of these digital equity programs is that all individuals in the United States have the information technology capacity needed to fully participate in the society and economy of the country. To reach this goal, it is important to consider digital literacy skills development (the ability to use technology to find, evaluate, organize, create, and communicate information) and digital inclusion. Key components of digital inclusion are affordability and availability of information and communication technologies. It is also important to create applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation, and collaboration, while also fostering digital literacy training, quality technical support, and basic awareness of measures to ensure online privacy and cybersecurity. Current and future digital equity grant programs are going to support projects that impact any or all of these important components of the overall initiative. Successful implementation of these projects will require organizations of all types to be involved in digital equity planning and implementation efforts.

Who Should Be Involved in Digital Equity Projects

  • Government agencies: States are currently working on their digital equity planning efforts for the State Digital Equity Grant Program, in collaboration with advisory committees and outreach. They will continue to be involved in these efforts throughout the life of this program. Local governments can be involved at the state level through participation in committees or implementation plans, but also think about what digital equity initiatives should be developed more locally and how you will be involved in that process.
  • Institutes of higher education: Institutions of higher education are often already involved in digital inclusion and digital literacy efforts for their faculty, staff, and students and may also be participating in state advisory committees. Expand those efforts to include the broader community around your campus to have a bigger impact.
  • K-12 schools: School districts and other K-12 entities are also already implementing digital equity projects for their students. Like with institutes of higher education, the IIJA funding can provide opportunities for you to expand your current programming to include your student’s families and other members of the community.
  • Healthcare providers: A vital component of digital equity is access to telehealth services. Healthcare organizations can lead and participate in projects designed to increase access to these services for their patients.
  • Community organizations: Community organizations are uniquely positioned to collaborate with the communities that will be most impacted by digital equity efforts. Continue your outreach and advisory capacity for government agencies working on digital inclusion and digital literacy projects. Also, implement or expand your programs to increase access to technology and skills necessary for full participation in the digital world.

Due to the multifaceted nature of many of the projects that will be implemented in these digital equity grant programs, collaboration is going to be essential. States have already started some collaborations in their digital equity planning efforts, but many more will be needed to fully design and implement digital equity projects. Think about what pieces of these efforts your organization can lead and what areas you would need additional expertise. Reach out to organizations with complementary skills and knowledge to explore potential collaborative efforts.

How to Get Involved Now

As previously mentioned, states are already working on digital equity planning efforts through the State Digital Equity Grant Program. They have committees with representatives of several types of organizations across their state to help with these efforts. Even if your organization is not currently involved, reaching out to this office can be a fantastic way to be a part of future planning and implementation efforts. You can find state-specific contact information at

The Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program is expected to open in later 2023. Now is the time to start planning projects for this program. Reach out to potential collaborators now and start regular informal brainstorming meetings. As you refine your ideas, start to plan out additional specifics so that you are ready to refine your ideas and apply when the program does open. Outside of the Digital Equity Competitive Grant Program, these collaborations and brainstorming sessions can also open new opportunities for your organization. There may be efforts that one or more entities already have in place that can benefit from the increased involvement of other organizations. You may also discover that you are duplicating efforts between organizations and collaboration can allow you to have a larger impact for the same level of investment.

Whether you pursue digital equity grant funding or not, there is currently a huge focus on these kinds of efforts for the country. To achieve any level of digital equity, digital inclusion, and digital literacy projects will need to involve organizations from many different sectors working together. Now is a wonderful time for your organization to get started on or expand your digital equity programs and help reach this goal.