Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act
The Digital Equity Act, established by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), dedicates $2.75 billion to establish three grant programs that promote digital inclusion and equity to ensure that all individuals and communities have access to the skills and tools needed to for full participation in the society and economy of the United States. The goal of these programs is to promote digital inclusion and advance equity for all to ensure all communities have affordable access and can use the Internet to improve their lives, including low-income households, aging populations, incarcerated individuals, veterans, individuals with disabilities, individuals with a language barrier, racial and ethnic minorities, and rural inhabitants.
State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program: $60 million formula grant program for states and territories to develop digital equity plans.
State, DC, and PR application due date July 12, 2022; Other Territory and Tribal Entity Letter of Intent Due date July 12, 2022 and application due date TBD.
Total Amount: $60 Million States; District of Columbia and Puerto Rico: $53.4 Million; Set-Asides: $3 Million for Territories (other than Puerto Rico); $15 Million for Indian Tribes, Alaska Native Entities, and Native Hawaiian Organizations
Amount Available Towards Broadband (if specified): $60 Million
NTIA strongly encourages states and territories to concurrently participate in the State Digital Equity Planning Grant program and the Broadband Equity, Access & Deployment Program (BEAD). The BEAD program makes a historic $42.5 billion for grants to states and territories for planning, deployment, mapping, equity, and adoption projects.
Each state of the United States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico is eligible to apply for grants under this program. Separately, territories or possessions of the United States that are not defined as States for purposes of this program, as well as Indian Tribes, Alaska Native entities, and Native Hawaiian organizations, are eligible to enter into grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts with NTIA to carry out the activities contemplated in this program.
Digital Equity Plans will be focused on serving members of the “covered populations” listed in Section 60302(8) of the Infrastructure Act. The term “covered populations” means:
1. Individuals who live in covered households;
2. Aging individuals;
3. Incarcerated individuals, other than individuals who are incarcerated in a Federal correctional facility;
5. Individuals with disabilities;
6. Individuals with a language barrier, including individuals who—
a. Are English learners; and
b. Have low levels of literacy;
7. Individuals who are members of a racial or ethnic minority group; and
8. Individuals who primarily reside in a rural area.
NTIA and the U.S. Census Bureau have collaborated to create the “Digital Equity Act Population Viewer,” which shows covered population totals calculated by the Census Bureau for each state, alongside the other factors used as inputs into the funding formula. The Digital Equity Act Population Viewer can be accessed at https://www.census.gov/programs-surveys/community-resilience-estimates/partnerships/ntia.html