Digital Equity EXPLAINED

What is Digital Equity? 

The work of digital equity is to close the digital divide between those who can access the internet and those who can’t. Digital equity is no longer optional. Digital access is necessary to be able to maintain employment, access education, and have financial security. 

Lack of access to the digital world disproportionately affects people of color, Indigenous peoples, households with low incomes, people with disabilities, people living in rural areas, those with limited English or literacy, and older adults.

Digital Equity is a condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy. Digital Equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services. Digital Equity includes not only having the infrastructure (poles and wires) available to your household but also being able to afford to connect to the internet, having a device, and the knowledge, skills, and education to use the internet. Digital equity and inclusion is part of a larger vision for Kennebec County centering on the goals of health, education, and financial stability of its residents.

©National Digital Inclusion Alliance

Kennebec County Digital Equity and Digital Inclusion Plan (PDF)

 

In the spring of  2023, a group of Kennebec County residents and representatives of nonprofit organizations developed a Digital Equity and Digital Inclusion (DEDI) Plan for Kennebec County. The goal of the Plan is to close the digital divide. This plan was developed in collaboration with the Maine Connectivity Authority and the National Digital Equity Center to contribute to a statewide Broadband Action Plan. 

 

The state Broadband Action Plan and Kennebec County’s plan are aligned in that they focus on priorities for investment in broadband and digital equity and will serve as the state’s five-year roadmap to bring the economic, health, educational, and social benefits of high-speed internet to all people in Maine. 

 

Elements of Kennebec County’s DEDI Plan include investing in Digital Navigators and Digital Educators, connecting people to affordable devices, increasing the supply of loan-able hotspots from area libraries, and helping people learn about the availability of digital literacy training and classes. We want to create a strong ethic for digital equity in Kennebec County by offering an array of resources that people need to be digitally connected as determined by input from various sectors and interested organizations and individuals.

 

In 2024, our work focuses on two program areas: 

  1. Digital Navigator.  Through the National Digital Equity Center, we have hired a part-time Digital Navigator for Kennebec County.  Calvin Lewis will help people sign up for NDEC online classes, and help people on a one-on-one basis to learn basic digital skills like how to sign on to Zoom, create and use a new email address, and enroll in NDEC classes. He can also help people develop an individualized learning plan.

Contact the Digital Navigator for Kennebec County: calvin@digitalequitycenter.org; or 207-802-5005

2. Digital Equity Stipend Program.  The Kennebec Digital Equity Working Group will have funds available through a stipend program for libraries, tribal entities, and nonprofits in Kennebec County to implement digital equity and literacy programs. For more information, email Hildie Lipson, Kennebec Broadband Partnership Director. 

Learn more about broadband initiatives and programs:

News and Updates

Maine’s ACP Week of Action August 4-12, 2023

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) is a federal program that helps households afford internet service. Eligible households can get $30 off monthly internet (or up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands). The week of August 4-12 in Maine is...

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Update: Community Broadband Meeting

GrowSmart Maine hosted a community meeting at the Augusta Multicultural Center in early April to hear about the experiences of people using the internet and the barriers they may face to being digitally connected.

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Take Maine’s Broadband Survey!

The State of Maine, through the Maine Connectivity Authority, is developing a Broadband Action Plan to decide how $250 million in federal funds should be used to expand access to high-speed internet and ensure that we all have what we need to connect to the digital...

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