Kentucky Pursues Full and Equitable Digital Access for All

Benton Institute for Broadband & Society

Friday, September 29, 2023

Weekly Digest

Kentucky Pursues Full and Equitable Digital Access for All

 You’re reading the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society’s Weekly Digest, a recap of the biggest (or most overlooked) broadband stories of the week. The digest is delivered via e-mail each Friday.

Round-Up for the Week of Sept 25-29, 2023

Grace Tepper

The goal of the Commonwealth of Kentucky’s Digital Equity Plan is to establish a roadmap that ensures everyone, regardless of their background or community, has access to the necessary technological resources to fully engage in our society, democracy, and economy. The Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet’s (ELC) Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has made the state's draft plan available to the public for feedback until October 15, 2023. Detailed in the draft plan are Kentucky's plans to realize its vision of digital equity.

Kentucky's Vision of Digital Equity

Kentucky's vision for digital equity is:

Kentucky will be a place where all individuals, businesses, and communities have full and equitable digital access to pursue economic and personal opportunities.

Kentucky will work to remove barriers to digital adoption by creating opportunities through technology, affordable high-speed internet, and digital skills development for all people and businesses. The goal of Kentucky's five-year Digital Equity Plan is to empower communities, businesses, local governments, and state agencies to sustain the Commonwealth's digital equity efforts beyond this initial five-year period.

Barriers to Digital Equity

Through its public digital equity survey, listening tour sessions, and stakeholder engagement, Kentucky identified the top three barriers to home internet adoption in the Commonwealth.

In several areas of the state (urban, suburban, but primarily in rural areas) the infrastructure needed to connect households to broadband service does not exist. Statewide, 9.6 percent of those without internet at home said that they do not subscribe to broadband because it is not available at their home. Listening tour participants also cited availability as a primary concern; half (50%) said that a lack of available service is a reason why many households do not subscribe to home internet service.

Broadband service and internet-compatible devices are often not affordable. The cost of broadband service is cited by 41 percent of people without home internet and by the majority (60 percent) of listening tour participants as a reason why households do not subscribe to home internet service. Nearly 10 percent of survey respondents also cited the cost of installation and setup as a barrier to subscription. More findings related to affordability include:

  • 33.7 percent of survey respondents without home internet service cited their lack of a device as a barrier to adoption.
  • 32.6 percent of all respondents did not have a computer at home.
  • 56.9 percent of those without a computer cited the cost of devices as a barrier to obtaining one.

Last but not least, Many Kentuckians need digital skills training to increase their comfort level with being online. For many Kentucky residents, a lack of digital skills represents a barrier to adopting and using home broadband service. This is reflected in the number of residents who don’t feel comfortable using a computer or going online; it also includes those who do not know how to avoid online threats such as malware, scams, or other digital security threats. Three out of 10 listening tour attendees cite a lack of digital literacy skills as a barrier to home broadband adoption, while others cite concerns about using computers altogether or going online due to security threats. Many participants said that they either did not know how to navigate the internet or they did not feel safe doing so.

Covered Populations

Broadband adoption rates among individuals who identify as covered population members tend to be lower overall than the statewide average. Among specific groups of covered populations, low-income households and respondents with disabilities had the lowest internet adoption rates among the covered populations in the survey, reporting 65 percent and 66 percent adoption rates, respectively, trailing the state average (74.7 percent) by at least nine percentage points.

The primary barrier facing Aging Individuals is that the monthly cost of service is too expensive. Of surveyed individuals, 46 percent say affordability is preventing them from subscribing to home internet service. Other major issues for aging individuals are the lack of a home computer or device (23%) or that internet service is not available at their address (23%). Through the listening tour, Kentucky found that many aging individuals struggled with digital skills. Given a lack of resources to train this generation, many feel that they must rely on family members (if available) to properly understand the internet and associated technologies. Lacking digital skills makes this population more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats, as scams can be hard to identify with limited information. To some degree, these problems reinforce each other—aging individuals without digital skills may be afraid to use the internet because they fear being scammed, which makes it difficult to attain digital skills on their own.

Rural areas may lack competition between internet service providers—making it easier to charge higher prices.

Low-Income Households (that is, at or below 150% of the Federal Poverty Threshold) face a variety of challenges. The monthly cost of the internet is the main barrier for 41 percent of surveyed individuals, followed closely by a lack of devices (34%) and then a perceived lack of need (11%). For some individuals living in low-income households, the question of affordability comes down to priorities—a household may have the ability to pay for home internet service, but other bills take priority. While they may need to spend that money on necessities like food, the lack of internet inhibits their ability to participate in the workforce. Programs like the Federal Communications Commission's Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) do help with affordability; however, some commented that they do not fully address cost concerns, and information about these programs is not always transparent. While programs like the ACP exist to provide free or reduced-cost devices to low-income households, maintaining those devices can be expensive, which creates a barrier to future connectivity.

For Racial and Ethnic Minorities in Kentucky, the primary barrier to subscription is they don’t own computers that can access the internet. This need is echoed by 56 percent of surveyed individuals. The cost of monthly service is another major concern (17%) as well as the cost of installation (11%). Overall, racial and ethnic minorities had lower awareness about programs that could help them acquire devices and make internet service more affordable; 40.1 percent of non-white survey respondents had heard of the ACP, compared to 46.3 percent familiarity among all Kentuckians.

Rural Kentuckians cite two main reasons for not subscribing to the internet. The primary barrier facing this population is that the monthly cost of service is too
expensive (42%), closely followed by not owning a computer that can access the internet (39%). Availability was also a major concern for 18 percent of surveyed individuals. Rural areas may lack competition between internet service providers—making it easier to charge higher prices. In some areas, residents lacked the ability
to get reliable internet service at all. Being in a remote location also makes it difficult for rural residents without digital skills to access government services. Focus group participants cited transportation time and costs as a barrier, as well as limited staff to accommodate the demand.

The primary barrier for People with Disabilities is not owning a computer that can access the internet (45%), followed closely by the monthly cost of internet service (40%). Another concern was the ability to afford installation services (14%). People with disabilities can sometimes face accessibility challenges, which having reliable internet could help them with—especially with regard to telehealth and telework. Having a disability sometimes means that the individual is not able to work, and is therefore reliant on a fixed income. As a result, this population may struggle with the ability to afford home internet service and computers. 

For Veterans in Kentucky, owning a computer that can access the internet is the primary barrier (42%). The monthly cost of internet service is another major concern for one-third of veterans (33%). Seventeen percent of veterans also cited a lack of perceived need for the internet, lack of availability, and lack of perceived need for a device other than a smartphone. In an increasingly digital world, many veterans without digital literacy skills struggle to find services and benefits that can improve their quality of life. For many veterans, lacking digital literacy skills means taking potentially unnecessary trips to see whether they qualify for benefits. Without digital literacy training, veterans also struggle to file medical claims once they have established their benefits.

Individuals facing a language barrier face a number of challenges. While persons with language barriers may benefit from digital skills training, communities struggle with offering digital literacy training to non-English speakers. Lacking digital literacy skills can also prevent individuals with language barriers from accessing basic government services. General accessibility issues (because services are only offered in English) can also impact their ability to acquire digital literacy skills on their own.

Kentucky's Digital Equity Plan cited a low number of incarcerated individuals being represented in its listening tour activities (17 percent). The plan offers no data on incarcerated individuals.

To explore a map of where covered populations live in Kentucky, visit the Kentucky Map of Covered Populations.

Kentucky Map of Covered Populations

Implementation Strategy and Key Activities

Objective 1: Enhance broadband availability and affordability for covered populations.


  • Optimize broadband deployment in partnership with the Office of Broadband Development (OBD) by sharing data regarding covered populations to inform the prioritization process and develop strategies.
    • Support and collaborate with the OBD by providing necessary reports and other strategies as needed with regard to connectivity and affordability needs of covered populations.
    • Develop and distribute materials (newsletter, publication, social media, etc.) to provide updates on deployment amongst key digital equity stakeholders, at a minimum, on a quarterly basis.
    • Encourage statewide speed test initiatives in areas populated by covered populations such as multi-dwelling units (MDUs), and support the analysis and distribution of the results.
    • Analyze data from OBD and the Center for Rural Development (CRD) on statewide speed tests to determine internet usability in areas inhabited by covered populations.
  • Detect and alleviate obstacles and barriers preventing broadband expansion and adoption by facilities that provide services to covered populations.
    • Intentionally locate and prioritize providing access to intermittent housing, group homes, assisted living facilities, MDUs, and homeless shelters in partnership with agencies such as the Department of Corrections, the Department of Aging and Independent Living, local nonprofits, and local workforce boards.
    • Leverage the Kentucky Center for Statistics data collection, stakeholder engagements, and other resources to identify facilities that provide services to covered populations that may be unserved or underserved.
  • Build a publicly accessible catalog of state and national subsidies on the digital equity website.
    • Identify and gather resources to promote available resources, particularly those that are free or low-cost, have low barriers to participation, and directly benefit the covered populations (for example, ISPs, local governments, and community-based organizations).
    • Track penetration rate over time, and audit programs quarterly on participation rates.
    • Conduct regional convenings to promote digital equity throughout the state, and encourage local communities to adopt the principles of digital equity
  • Identify and increase participation rates in low-cost or affordable broadband programs such as the Affordable Connectivity Program in targeted communities that have lower participation rates than the national average.
    • To make the most impact and efficiently support our covered populations, the Kentucky Education and Labor Cabinet will collaborate with local partners—including school districts, libraries, and workforce development boards—to promote low-cost programs to increase participation in the counties experiencing low ACP adoption rates and high covered population concentration:
      • In the first year, focusing on counties with less than 10 percent ACP adoption
      • In the second year, focusing on counties with less than 20 percent ACP adoption
      • In the third year, focusing on counties with less than 30 percent ACP adoption
    • Identify and highlight communities or organizations across the Commonwealth that are excelling at promoting affordable programs in creative and unique ways.
  • Promote community anchor institutions with free Wi-Fi or hotspot loan programs as a stop-gap measure.
    • Promote entities and programs such as the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA) bookmobiles, equipment loan programs, school district programs, community-based organizations, and Learning without Limits.
    • Collaborate with local Workforce Investment Boards serving covered populations to encourage device distribution or lending programs for people from covered populations.

Measuring Success

  • Impact Measures
    • Increase broadband adoption by 4 percent annually from 74 percent for covered populations. Conduct three longitudinal residential broadband surveys at the end of Years 2, 4, and 5 to track progress. This data will provide updates on affordability, barriers to adoption, changes in adoption, and internet use trends.
    • Track subscription, conversion rates, list growth rates, open rates, and/or engagement by digital equity stakeholders of newsletters and/or other distributed materials.
    • Assess the impact of OBD deployment efforts, especially on areas with higher concentrations of covered populations in the year beginning one year after deployments have begun.
    • Track participation in low-cost and affordable programs in communities where ELC is supporting the promotion of programs in partnership with local entities such as school districts.
    • A 3 percent increase in ACP participation in targeted counties.
  • Output Measures
    • Develop an annual report and analysis on access to broadband for covered populations to be shared with OBD.
    • Annually update catalogue of state and national subsidies on the digital equity website.
    • Resource materials are created and distributed across the Commonwealth.
    • Create a PSA and/or flyers that promote the work.

Objective 2: Ensure access to affordable devices for all Kentuckians.


  • Create a sustainable device ecosystem in alignment with local digital equity plans, particularly in areas with low device ownership.
    • Leverage existing partners and organizations to determine common needs and practices within the first six to nine months of the first year.
    • Identify any policy barriers to device refurbishments and collaborate with policymakers to remove them.
    • Determine best practices to develop a “Learn and Earn” program that provides free devices upon successful completion of digital skills training.
  • Identify and promote device refresh programs to deploy/sell low-cost refurbished devices to covered populations in collaboration with local government.
    • Partner with government agencies and schools to develop a framework to sustainably handle the “refresh cycles” (devices nearing the end of their use within the agency but can still be utilized). This will prepare them to become available for safe distribution to covered populations.
    • Encourage colleges, universities, area technology centers, and local vocational programs to be involved in the refurbishment of devices.
    • Explore opportunities with the Registered Apprenticeship program to expand the workforce available to support device refurbishing.
    • Identify, support, and promote nonprofit electronic refurbishing programs in Kentucky to have the capacity to both refurbish and properly recycle devices (end-of-life e-cycle program) throughout the life of the Digital Equity Act funding.
    • Prioritize counties with more than 15% of households lacking household devices.
  • Capitalize on funding to drive impact while balancing urgency, universality, and equity.
    • Promote local grant writers to include device funding in grant requests to anticipate device needs when working with covered populations.
    • Support local partners on how to apply for waivers from FCC for non-providers to purchase devices for ACP and recoup a portion or all device costs through the program/voucher.

Measuring Success

  • Impact Measures
    • Increase device adoption in the Commonwealth and track progress in device adoption via three residential surveys conducted at the end of Years 2, 4, and 5 to track progress.
    • Track the number of new low-cost device programs initiated from Years 2 to 5.
    • Evaluate the impact of government and private-sector initiatives aimed at improving device ownership in underserved communities.
    • Monitor the adoption rates of programs that provide subsidies or discounts on devices and internet services to low-income individuals for continuous improvement.
    • Release a best practice report on the “Learn and Earn” program that provides free devices upon successful completion of digital skills training by the end of the second year.
  • Output Measures
    • Document mitigation efforts in collaboration with OBD based on annual performance data each year beginning in Year 3.
    • Develop a sustainable device ecosystem with the City of Louisville, Simmons College, and SOAR that will serve as a model program with expansion within two years. Within the model program will be a “Learn and Earn” curriculum and programs.
    • Complete an environmental scan and distribution of device refurbishers and make them available in all 120 counties.
    • RFPs that address urgency, universality, and equity meeting the needs of covered populations and evaluation rubrics to support them.

Objective 3: Increase application accessibility and inclusivity to state and local government programs.


  • Conduct an accessibility study on critical state programs that are most frequently used by the covered populations.
    • Identify the most visited and critical state-run programs that serve covered populations.
    • Make available the known resources in design and user testing to promote user-friendly design and consistency in government websites, programs, and applications, making digital equity a priority in design.
    • Encourage state agencies and nonprofits to create culturally sensitive materials in multiple formats and languages that reflect the communities they serve.
    • Conduct biannual open forums for state agencies and local organizations to share best practices for enhancing accessibility and inclusivity of applications.
  • Make it easier for covered populations to access government resources and programs online.
    • Collaborate with workforce agencies in developing statewide digital navigators and promote their presence at community events.
    • Support community organizations to utilize readily available government websites for community work and serving covered populations.
    • Encourage adoption of the following best practices by agencies and community organizations working with covered populations. This could include websites that render to a mobile-friendly device, simplified access in any format where possible, basic readability standards for any language, and more.
  • Develop an assessment tool for local governments to improve citizens' overall experience in accessing government services online.
    • Encourage city and county governments and municipalities to have active, accessible, and easily understandable websites.
    • Encourage beta testing websites with ADA experts and Digital Navigators, providing resources when available and necessary.
    • Develop resources and periodic communications that quantify what constitutes a positive digital experience, for example: accessibility, translation capabilities, voice guidance, and more.
  • Improve civic and social engagement options for covered populations.
    • Engage local community leaders on the importance of inclusivity.
    • Promote the Digital Equity Initiative into existing local culture.
    • Work to reduce stigma for covered populations utilizing resources.
  • Enhance the delivery of other essential services, such as emergency management alert efforts for covered populations.
    • Ongoing digital training/education/awareness for service providers, local and state government services.
    • Support a robust communication strategy.
    • Provide support to libraries and trusted community partners to ensure they have the appropriate information, supplies, and community knowledge to provide help to patrons and individuals from covered populations.
    • Encourage partnership with the Public Service Commission and explore how to authorize 211 and a referral hotline available 24/7 365 in all Kentucky counties.

Measuring Success

  • Impact Measures
    • Monitor and assess enrollment, participation, and engagement rates in critical state-run programs annually.
    • Promote the advancement of the 211 referral hotline in partnership with the Public Service Commission over the five-year plan period.
    • Increase in citizen satisfaction pertaining to improved accessibility.
  • Output Measures
    • Request accessibility studies on critical state-run programs from relevant agencies and/or perform accessibility studies within ELC’s jurisdiction annually.
    • Conduct annual interviews with lived experts, digital equity, and inclusivity stakeholders.
    • Completed accessibility study and partnered with state programs to address outcomes.
    • Annual customer satisfaction survey (in partnership with other agencies) that includes accessibility, and publish results that will be used for continuous improvement.
    • Develop assessment tool in Year 1; deploy in Years 2 and 3; assess in Year 4. Year 1: create a playbook for civic and social
      engagement. Years 2 to 5: distribute the playbook/resource to community organizations (schools, libraries, community centers).
    • Convene covered population round tables with state and local emergency management entities as requested. 

Objective 4: Ensure that all Kentuckians are equipped to navigate the internet safely.


  • Develop and deliver basic internet safety and internet essentials online resources and post them on the digital equity website.
    • Encourage local partners to utilize curriculum and create pathways to certifications and program completion in areas like basic skills and internet safety.
    • Partner with organizations supporting justice-involved individuals to encourage pathways to teach digital skills and literacy, including a certificate of completion upon release to assist with re-entry.
    • Collaborate with K-12 institutions to engage community efforts to teach digital skills and literacy. 
  • Create and distribute publicly accessible computer placards/aids as covered populations frequently utilize public computers and Wi-Fi.
    • Encourage partners to use social media and mobile means of access when developing content to share information, activities, and promotional materials.
    • Partner with the local community to distribute information in existing school correspondence, “Welcome to Community” packets, laundromats, community centers, job fair packets, and more.
    • Develop ways to incorporate educational training to accessing public Wi-Fi.
    • Encourage a “hard-to-ignore” sign-in screen to promote internet safety.
    • Encourage the practice of having distributed devices come with pre-installed icons that link to a helpdesk or Digital Navigator portal installed on the desktop for easy access.
    • Produce public service announcements (PSAs) around digital skills and benefits.
  • Collaborate with the Kentucky Office of Cybersecurity to develop best practice resources on internet safety targeting covered populations in their communities.
    • Work with experts at the Kentucky Homeland Security’s Fusion Center, libraries, and community partners to develop statewide cybersecurity resources.
    • Promote free online tools such as firewalls, antivirus, or full-suite software.
    • Collaborate with experts from the Kentucky Office of Cybersecurity to develop countermeasures needed against cyber threats that affect covered populations.
    • Simplify social engineering concepts in training to ensure vulnerable communities understand how to identify risks.
    • Promote the adoption of internet of things (IoT) security measures as a standard methodology.

Measuring Success

  • Impact Measures
    • Track use of cybersecurity resources and online tools shared via the ELC’s digital equity website.
    • Track performance of PSAs by tracking the number of stations airing them, the total number of airings, the total value of those airings, and total impressions.
    • Track quarterly the number of justice-involved individuals who successfully complete training on a quarterly basis.
    • Assessment of internet safety barriers via the three residential surveys to be conducted in Years 2, 4, and 5 of the Digital Equity Plan.
    • Assess confidence and self-efficacy — provide self-assessment tools to training providers so they can ask participants about their confidence levels in using the internet safely before and after the training.
  • Output Measures
    • In partnership with community stakeholders, develop PSAs and/or marketing strategies to promote internet safety courses. 
    • Develop the placard/aid promotional materials for distribution in cooperation with community partners.
    • Update the digital equity website with the identified resources on a semi-annual basis.

Objective 5: Improve digital literacy for all covered populations in Kentucky.


  • Define digital citizenship in the Commonwealth and roll it out with key stakeholders.
    • Work with digital equity stakeholders and trusted partners to develop the framework surrounding digital citizenship.
    • Promote the practice of celebrating achievements through a public ceremony to empower citizens and inspire others.
    • Explore how to standardize digital skills and literacy through recognized credentials, much like how GED and high school diplomas are standardized.
  • Improve Kentuckian’s digital literacy via private-public partnerships to promote or enhance existing programs.
    • Encourage entities such as Area Development Districts (ADDs), Workforce Boards, and County Extension Offices to continue offering digital inclusion resources and community outreach.
    • Facilitate meetings with key education and training partners, community-based organizations, and stakeholders around developing core digital skills/certifications requirements as needed and share best practices.
    • Leverage agencies within the Department of Workforce Development as well as community partners to incorporate digital equity into registered apprenticeships, reentry, and other workforce talent pipelines.
  • Build an interactive digital inclusion map so all Kentuckians can find training resources and support near them.
    • Create an interactive digital inclusion map managed by the Education and Labor Cabinet to allow for research and longitudinal data opportunities.
    • Partner with digital inclusion organizations to develop a tool to incorporate the interactive digital inclusion map to determine user experience or skill level.
    • Continue ongoing data collection to gather the work being done in communities by ongoing promotion of the asset inventory instrument and interactive digital inclusion map.
    • Require that partners complete the asset inventory instrument when applying for future grant opportunities through the Digital Equity Act.
  • Enhance the digital aptitude and self-assurance of covered populations in Kentucky by implementing an enhanced program through our collaborative partnership.
    • Encourage local digital inclusion practitioners and digital equity stakeholders to develop or adopt modules that follow a tiered approach to teaching digital skills and offer incentives such as certificates of completion.
    • Identify opportunities that support having a digital citizenship transcript that records every tier, program, or course completed.
    • Support the development and growth of peer-to-peer support programs to continue sharing knowledge within communities, with the goal of developing local lived experts.

Measuring Success

  • Impact Measures
    • Assessment of digital literacy levels via the three residential surveys to be conducted in Years 2, 4 and 5 of the Digital Equity Plan.
    • Increase in digital literacy training program opportunities across Kentucky as verified through the asset inventory map on an annual basis.
    • Attendance rates — track the number of participants who attended the training sessions provided by partners for the programs funded by ELC Office of Systems Equity.
  • Output Measures
    • Development of an inventory of success stories that highlight local lived experiences.
    • Establishment and adoption of a framework around digital citizenship within the first 12 months of the program.
    • Development of an inventory of key community-based organizations and stakeholders that offer core skills/certifications requirements and best practices to navigate tensions between shared digital literacy and skills-building curriculums and audience/usage-specific training.
    • Longitudinal studies of the digital inclusion inventory.
    • Year 1: define digital literacy. Year 2: create the rollout strategy with key partners. Year 3 and beyond: educate and execute.
    • Incorporate digital literacy certifications in the Commonwealth’s Learning Employment Records (LERs) initiative.

Objective 6: Help Kentuckians develop the digital skills necessary for work and life.


  • Offer personal digital skills assessments and certifications in Kentucky to all who wish to achieve their goals or attain a basic digital skills level.
    • Offer digital skills and literacy education platforms through Cabinet opportunities.
    • Connect outcomes to longitudinal data to inform grant requirements for community-based organizations.
    • Utilize pre-assessments to focus on areas of opportunity and growth and awarding of badges to symbolize completion.
    • Explore the feasibility of connecting digital citizenship milestones to a longitudinal database to ensure success.
  • Incorporate digital skills training into existing education, training, and workforce development programs.
    • Collaborate with existing workforce programs and determine the digital skills needed to meet today’s skills requirements.
    • Partner with state and local agencies to create incentives for businesses to build or adapt digital skills and training programs.
  • Expand covered populations’ participation in and completion of online targeted sector training in alignment with Kentucky’s economic and workforce development goals, plans, and outcomes.
    • Increase capacity to supplement traditional sites such as libraries and Kentucky Career Centers to support online targeted-sector training.
    • Work with trusted community partners and educational institutions to encourage digital skills and digital literacy as part of GED curriculum (or credit hours) rather than standalone certificates that support the needs of the covered populations.
    • Explore incentives and support for people coming from covered populations who wish to rejoin the workforce.
  • Enhance educational outcomes of covered populations through engagement in online learning platforms along the education continuum from preschool to postsecondary (P-20).
    • Explore models such as the "digital backpack" and the positive impact it can have on P-20 (preschool through graduate schools) with targeted covered populations.
    • Encourage match funding from public and private entities for advancing digital equity, such as the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), private foundation funding, corporate sponsorships, etc.
  • Positively impact the outcome and equity gaps for covered populations.
    • Partner with the Office of Employer and Apprenticeship to develop pathways to adopt digital jobs, such as Digital Navigators, to drive their presence in every county/region.
    • Create a digital equity outcomes dashboard that captures the outcomes for covered populations.
    • Create clear pathways and incentives to promote remote working, particularly for Eastern Kentucky.
    • Encourage employer sponsorships of apprenticing their digital jobs.
    • Explore how to have KTAP and SNAP participate in wrap-around support to covered populations pursuing digital skills and address any policy issues to combat the benefits cliff.
    • Promote best practices by encouraging existing and prospective businesses to hire from covered populations with incentives like the Work Opportunity Tax Credits at the federal level and support for people coming from covered populations who wish to join the workforce.
  • Increase participation in telehealth services, resulting in improved health outcomes for covered populations.
    • Partner with the Cabinet for Health and Family Services to promote telehealth services.
    • Develop maps, data analysis, and other resources to provide health organizations with supportive technologies.
    • Promote the practice of collecting and promoting testimonials of success in managing illness through technology throughout the life of the Digital Equity Act to build interest, engagement, and adoption.

Measuring Success

  • Impact Measures
    • Increase Kentucky’s labor force participation rate by 0.25 percent beginning in Year 3.
    • Connect outcomes to longitudinal data to inform grant requirements for community-based organizations.
    • Track usage of Work Opportunity Tax Credits at the federal level.
    • Assess changes in educational outcomes over the five-year grant period.
    • Track the number of Digital Navigators across the state via the asset inventory instrument.
    • Track the use of telehealth across Kentucky via the Cabinet for Health and Family Services or other publicly available data.
    • Attendance rates—track the number of participants who attended the training sessions provided by partners for the programs funded by the ELC Office of Systems Equity.
    • Establish digital job apprenticeship programs. For example, Digital Navigators.
    • Develop PSAs and/or other resources in conjunction with CHFS for distribution to community partners. 
  • Output Measures
    • Successful deployment of digital skills and literacy education platforms through Cabinet opportunities in 24 months.
    • Based on analysis of the asset inventory instrument, identify gaps in resources. 
    • Capture the recommendations from facilitated meetings with key partners on digital skills.
    • Develop, post, and promote the digital inclusion map on the digital equity website.
    • Dedicate a portion of the digital equity website to assessments and resources that will be updated annually.
    • Document programs under the purview of ELC that have incorporated digital skills.
    • Inclusion in the Commonwealth’s WIOA state plan for 2024-2028.
    • Document leveraged public and private resources to strengthen education outcomes via online learning platforms through state grant funding opportunities.
    • Create a digital equity outcome dashboard.

Kentucky Wants to Hear From You

The public comment period for Kentucky's draft Digital Equity Plan will close on October 15, 2023. Feedback and comments can be submitted using the state's online form. More information can be found through the Kentucky Office of Systems Equity.

Quick Bits

Weekend Reads (resist tl;dr)

ICYMI from Benton

Upcoming Events

Sept 29––Listening Session on Digital Discrimination in New York City (FCC)

Sept 29––How Are States Managing the Broadband Billions? (American Enterprise Institute)

Oct 2-6––Digital Inclusion Week 2023 (NDIA)

Oct 2––All Together For Digital Inclusion - Stakeholder Summit 2023 (Digital Empowerment Community of Austin)

Oct 2––Will Broadband Be Affordable? Assessing Regulations for Broadband Subsidies (American Enterprise Institute)

Oct 3-5––What's Next For Broadband? (Community Broadband Action Network)

Oct 3––Task Force to Prevent Digital Discrimination Listening Session in Topeka (FCC)

Oct 4––CHIPS and Science Implementation and Oversight (Senate Commerce Committee)

Oct 5––Task Force to Prevent Digital Discrimination Listening Session in Topeka (FCC)

Oct 10-12––AnchorNets 2023 (Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition)

Oct 12-13––Digital Inclusion Research Forum (Federal Reserve Banks of Dallas, Atlanta, Philadelphia and Kansas City)

Oct 12-13––FCC Tribal Workshop at Indian Island, Maine (FCC)

Oct 19––2nd Annual Spectrum Summit (Joint Center for Politics and Economic Studies)

Oct 19––October 2023 Open Federal Communications Commission Meeting

Oct 24––41st Annual Everett C. Parker Lecture & Awards Breakfast (United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry)

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