Washington State Digital Equity Plan wins approval, $15.9 million in federal funding

Washington’s share of $2.75 billion in federal funding will unlock opportunities to connect communities, support access to computers and digital skills programs

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington’s Digital Equity Plan has been approved by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), bringing with it approximately $15.9 million in available federal funding from the Biden Administration’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. The plan addresses disparities and identifies barriers to digital access, skills and affordability across the state. It establishes measurable objectives for promoting access to high-speed internet, meaningful use of broadband technology, and advancing digital skills.

“This is an important milestone for our state. Bridging the digital divide isn’t just about technology, but unlocking opportunities for all,” said Director of Washington State Broadband Office Aaron Wheeler. “Digital equity empowers individuals and strengthens our communities. I look forward to continuing this critical work with our partners across the state to reduce digital inequalities and increase digital inclusion.”

“Today, Washington is taking a major step toward closing the digital divide,” said Angela Thi Bennett, Director of Digital Equity, NTIA. “The state’s digital equity plan will make certain everyone in Washington possesses the digital skills, tools, and capacity to thrive.”

View Washington’s Digital Equity Plan

The NTIA expects to begin issuing funds to states by the end of summer. The Washington State Broadband Office at the Department of Commerce plans to use the funds earmarked for Washington to implement a Digital Equity Capacity Grant program. Information on the new grant program, including eligible applicants, instructions and timelines to apply, will be shared as it becomes available.

The Digital Equity Act, part of the Internet for All initiative and President Biden’s Investing in America Agenda, will provide $2.75 billion nationally to create three grant programs promoting digital equity and inclusion. The program aims to ensure that all people and communities have the skills, technology, and capacity needed to reap the full benefits of our digital economy.

Washington has been leading digital equity efforts to bring broadband services and digital skills to all. When the State Digital Equity Scorecard was launched by the National Skills Coalition, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, and Microsoft in 2021, Washington was the only state in the country to receive a perfect score. Commerce’s Digital Navigator Program exemplifies Washington’s commitment to this critical work.

Please visit the Commerce website to learn more about the state’s Internet for All Initiative.


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