Making Connections During Digital Inclusion Week

By Mitch Coppes, Government Relations Senior Specialist, Goodwill Industries International

Digital Inclusion Week is a time to promote digital equity and advance essential digital skills, digital literacy, and affordable internet connections to low-income families, people with disabilities, youth and young adults, people involved in the criminal justice system, military veterans, and other people facing barriers to digital inclusion. It is also an opportunity to learn about and engage with government programs and initiatives that are helping digital equity stakeholders address the digital divide in their communities.

The lack of affordable high-speed internet service in many households across the country has made it difficult for millions of Americans to access virtual training, find jobs, and build their digital skills. Data from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration shows that about one in five U.S. households have no home internet connection. Congress authorized $14.2 billion in the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward home internet service for eligible households. Individuals and families may be eligible to enroll in the program if they have a household income below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Line, or if someone in the household receives government benefits through programs like SNAP, Medicaid, Pell Grants, or Free and Reduced-Price School Lunch.

Congress will need to act soon to extend funding for the program to ensure that the more than 20 million households that have already enrolled in the ACP can continue to receive affordable internet service. However, there are still many more eligible households that have not yet taken advantage of this opportunity and local Goodwill® organizations can play an important role in helping the people we serve get online with support from the ACP. Local Goodwills can learn more about becoming an ACP community outreach partner during Digital Inclusion Week by visiting

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law also provided $2.75 billion for Digital Equity Act programs that will help promote digital inclusion and equip all individuals with the technology and capabilities needed to participate in the digital economy. This funding will help support states in developing and implementing statewide Digital Equity Plans, with an emphasis on serving populations facing barriers to opportunities and connectivity. States must also collaborate with local stakeholders, which include community-based organizations and nonprofits that carry out workforce development programs, on how best to advance the goals of the state plan and leverage federal funding to carry out digital equity activities at the local level. A review by The Pew Charitable Trusts identified some of the ways that states are currently working with local entities to promote digital equity:

  • Ohio established five regional digital inclusion alliances to coordinate with the state broadband office and better identify the unique opportunities and barriers for each region.
  • Wisconsin awarded Digital Equity Act planning funds to local organizations to lead outreach and engagement activities with the covered populations they serve.
  • Illinois is using planning funds to train and recruit digital navigators to help community members with accessing internet service and connected devices or building digital skills.
  • Missouri awarded funding to 10 local organizations to increase their digital navigator capacity and expand their ACP promotional activities.

Digital Inclusion Week is a great opportunity to amplify the voices of local Goodwill stakeholders in their states’ Digital Equity Act planning process. Learn more about digital equity planning and activities in your state here.