At Network:On we know the value of the Internet – and if you’re reading this, you probably do too! We know that broadband access improves a community’s economy, helps folks reach healthcare services, and creates education and job opportunities. But we also know that too many Americans remain unconnected – according to NTIA’s Internet Use Survey data, nearly 20% of Americans do not have a home broadband connection.
We now have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to connect all Americans to the benefits of robust high-speed broadband. Join us in our efforts to connect the 20% and close the digital adoption gap.
In November 2023, Network:On partnered with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) and Broadband Breakfast to host the Connect20 Summit, sponsored by Comcast. Over 60 digital navigators, policymakers, and digital equity practitioners came together in Washington, D.C. to discuss ways to address the digital adoption gap and champion programs like the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).
Day 1 – Bringing Together Digital Navigators, Practitioners and Equity Practitioners
Day 1 featured lively discussions about connecting the hardest-to-reach Americans, the power of public/private partnerships, and the role digital skills and navigation services play in closing the digital divide. Throughout the day, digital navigators from across the country shared stories from the field.
We were also joined by representatives from the Treasury Department, NTIA, and USDA who shared information and perspectives on federal initiatives aimed at connecting the last 20% of Americans to home internet.
If you missed the event, the videos from each panel are available from Broadband Breakfast:
- Federal Officials Agree: Infrastructure Alone Will Not Close the Digital Divide: Officials from broadband funding programs emphasized the importance of non-deployment projects at the Connect20 Summit in Washington.
- Building Trust with Communities is Key to Adoption: Digital navigators spoke about their work at the Connect20 Summit in Washington.
- Partnerships are Key for Digital Equity Efforts: State broadband offices should look to local organizations for digital equity efforts, panelists said.
- The Crucial Role of Digital Skills Training: Digital skills are a necessary foundation for workforce development
Day 2 – Digital Navigators on the Hill
Day 2 was held on Capitol Hill at the Rayburn House Office Building! We began with remarks from Representative Grace Meng from New York.
Rep. Meng explained, “Digital navigators like yourselves are critical to closing the digital divide … our communities can’t thrive if we don’t have basic and affordable access to the internet.”
After hearing from Rep. Meng, navigators attended workshops on advocacy, storytelling and earned media, and how mapping and data can make their work even more impactful. Several digital navigators then met with members of Congress to discuss the importance of ACP and digital adoption.
We want to thank everyone who joined us in person and virtually for the Connect20 Summit! Be sure to follow us @NetworkOnUSA for updates on future events.
Barriers to Digital Adoption
How do we break down those barriers and connect the 20%?
Programs like Lifeline and the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) play an important role in helping Americans get connected. Read more ACP and the importance of digital equity planning in our conversation with John Horrigan, senior fellow at the Benton Institute.
It’s clear: the digital navigator model works and is easily replicable and adaptable to unique communities and circumstances nationwide.— How Digital Navigators Lead to Broadband Adoption
Digital navigators work directly with community members to walk them through the process of getting connected. Every community is unique, so digital navigators might do different things in different communities. But the goal is the same: to break down barriers and get folks online. Learn more about digital navigators.
- In Hamden Public Library in Connecticut, a digital navigator helped Victoria Morrell rejoin the workforce, enabling her to connect by giving her a computer.
- In Maine, the National Digital Equity Center works with older adults and tribal communities, directing them toward the right resources.
- Digital navigators trained by World Education have helped immigrants and other underserved communities learn English and hone digital skills.
- Elevate and LISC Rural helped LaJewel Harbin learn how to manage her in-home hair salon with the help of digital recordkeeping and budgeting software.
Social Media Amplification
Please share this toolkit on social media to to spread the word about the importance of digital adoption. Don’t forget to tag @NetworkOnUSA and use the hashtag #Connect20!
Here is a compilation of our favorite external resources on a variety of topics for policymakers who are looking to Connect20.
For State, Local, and Tribal Leaders
- State Resources – NTIA
- Getting Connected: A Resource Guide for Local and Regional Government Leaders – California Emerging Technology Fund
- Tribal Broadband Planning Toolkit – NTIA
- Handbook on Infrastructure Deployment on Tribal Lands – Native Nations Communications Task Force
- Planning a Community Broadband Roadmap: A Toolkit for Local and Tribal Governments – NTIA
Wider Digital Inclusion Efforts
- ConnectHomeUSA Training – HUD Exchange
- Home Access Playbook – Office of Educational Technology
- How City Leaders Can Bridge the Digital Divide – National League of Cities
- 2022 Digital Inclusion Toolkit – New York State Library and NDIA
- The Lewis Latimer Plan for Digital Equity and Inclusion – National Urban League
Broadband Funding Info
- Current Broadband Funding – Connected Nation
- Broadband Funding Explainers – Next Century Cities
- Resource Guide: Broadband Funding – National Broadband Resource Hub
- Funding Opportunities for Federal Broadband Programs – Educause
- Guide to Federal Broadband Funding Opportunities in the U.S. – Internet Society
- Federal Broadband Funding Guide – Common Sense Media
- BroadbandUSA FY22 Interactive Federal Funding Guide – U.S. Department of Commerce
- Internet for All: Frequently Asked Questions and Answers Draft Version 2.0 – NTIA
- Guide to New Broadband Funding for HUDAssisted Communities – HUD Exchange
- Internet for All in California – Benton Institute for Broadband & Society
- Funding opportunities | Broadband for All – CA.gov
Wider Digital Inclusion Efforts
- ACP Consumer Outreach Toolkit – FCC
- Outreach Toolkit for Counties: The FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program – National Association of Counties
- ACP Tool Kit – Internet For All Now
- ACP Toolkit – San Antonio/Bexar County Community Organizations