Reactions to the Digital Equity Foundation Act

“As our world rapidly shifts online, Americans must be equipped with the knowledge and skills to use technology properly and successfully,” said Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-NM). “That’s why I’m introducing legislation that creates a long-term solution to close the divide on digital equity by launching a nonprofit foundation to award funding, support research, and provide technology training and education to communities in need. Critically, this legislation also ensures the decision makers will consist of experts that reflect the diverse communities that are in need of these investments, who will work closely with federal agencies to support and uplift digital equity-focused programs.”

Representative Doris Matsui (D-CA) said, “Regardless of age, zip code, or income level, Americans need to be able to get online. Yet for too long the digital divide has left millions of American families without a path to succeed in the 21st-century economy. Closing the digital divide will require a comprehensive approach that addresses the many factors leaving families without internet access. By introducing the Digital Equity Foundation Act, we’re establishing a powerful new tool grounded in equity and laser-focused on promoting economic mobility for communities in need. This legislation will jumpstart us down the road to lasting digital equity and inclusion nationwide.”

“I have been a longtime supporter of digital equity and ensuring all individuals, families, and businesses have access to affordable and reliable internet and broadband services wherever they live,” said Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR). “The ongoing pandemic highlights just how important equitable access to the internet and digital services are for all of our communities. This bill would mean better access to broadband and internet-enabled devices, and that means better, stronger, more connected communities.”

“New Mexico students deserve a future that is as bright as they are. We can achieve that goal by creating equal access to broadband opportunities. Access to high-speed internet is also key to bringing telehealth services and economic development opportunities to rural communities. I’m proud that we secured major investments in the Infrastructure Law to help build out broadband infrastructure all across New Mexico, but we don’t have to stop there. That’s why I’m proud to cosponsor this legislation that would put together a Foundation for Digital Equity to continue seeking ways to make broadband access more equitable and affordable for every single American,” said Senator Martin Heinrich.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that access to devices and internet connectivity is the cost of entry to participate in the modern economy and keep in touch with family and friends,” said Senator Ed Markey (D-MA). “Millions of people, however, still lack those essential tools. The Digital Equity Foundation Act is a critical step toward bridging this digital divide and ensuring that everyone has access to affordable information and communication technologies. I am proud to support this legislation.”

“This measure will help communities across the country bridge the digital divide and close the homework gap. Access to dependable, affordable broadband and online services is essential to ensuring students, businesses, and families have the tools to succeed. Our legislation is an important step in addressing our nation’s disparities in broadband access and countering the connectivity gaps exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT).

“We commend Senator Lujan and Representative Matsui for recognizing that without sustained investments in digital adoption and inclusion efforts at the community level, the huge new investments in broadband infrastructure and affordability won’t close the digital divide. A Digital Equity Foundation dedicated to this work and, if possible, funded by future spectrum auctions, will provide a sustainable way to tackle this part of the digital divide,” said Michael Calabrese, Director of the Wireless Future Project at New America's Open Technology Institute.

“Digital literacy, digital skills training, and access to devices -- these are some of the barriers to broadband adoption that Sen Luján and Rep Matsui’s Digital Equity Foundation Act of 2022 would address. This bill would use a portion of funds raised through spectrum auctions to fund resources at the local level to support schoolchildren, older adults, and others who need devices and training so that all generations have the essential tools to fully participate in our society. We thank Sen. Luján and Rep. Matsui for their leadership on this effort and look forward to working to getting the Digital Equity Foundation Act of 2022 enacted this year,” said Greg Guice, Director of Government Affairs at Public Knowledge.

John Windhausen, Executive Director of the Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition said, "Spectrum is a public asset, so it only stands to reason that spectrum auction revenues should support the public interest. The SHLB Coalition applauds Senator Lujan and Representative Matsui for introducing the Digital Equity Foundation Act, which would significantly increase our resources and capacity to address the digital divide. Most importantly, the bill recognizes anchor institutions as key agents for promoting digital equity, which is why SHLB hopes to see the bill progress quickly through the legislative process."

"NDIA is thrilled with the introduction of the Foundation for Digital Equity," said Angela Siefer, Executive Director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA). "As long as technology keeps changing and income disparities continue to exist, we will struggle with digital inequities. The Foundation for Digital Equity provides a vehicle for a national coordinated solution that will bring us closer to all of our community members making the most of digital tools."

“The Digital Equity Foundation Act of 2022 introduced by Senator Lujan and Representative Matsui would invest in often overlooked parts of the digital divide: the internet user and the trusted institutions that connect and empower users to fully participate online. Ongoing funding for digital literacy and inclusion must accompany basic access to the internet. The American Library Association is proud to support legislation that would allow libraries to do on a larger scale what they have always done: provide people access to the opportunities that the internet promises,” said Lessa Kananiʻopua Pelayo-Lozada, President of the American Library Association.

“Investments in infrastructure that seek to make broadband more affordable and accessible in rural communities are not enough alone," said Whitney Kimball Coe, Vice President of National Programs at the Center for Rural Strategies. "The Digital Equity Foundation Act would provide the ongoing and necessary support for rural families as technology shifts and changes and as the economy and services move online.”

“United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry, Common Cause and National Consumer Law Center, on behalf of its low-income consumers advocate for equitable, affordable broadband access as a civil right. Affordability is a significant barrier to broadband adoption and requires a permanent and sustainable funding solution and other barriers persist including access to connected devices, digital skills training, and a lack of awareness about existing programs that help close the digital divide. These barriers disproportionately impact communities of color, low-income and other marginalized groups. The Digital Equity Foundation Act of 2022 establishes a foundation dedicated to supporting digital inclusion activities, which is important for communities who have historically been left behind in the digital age to achieve digital equity in order to meaningfully participate in our society, economy, and democracy. We look forward to continuing to work on long-term tools to address affordability," said Cheryl Leanza, Policy Advisor at the United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry, Yosef Getachew, Media and Democracy Program Director at Common Cause, and Olivia Wein, Staff Attorney at the National Consumer Law Center.

“NHMC commends Senator Ben Ray Luján and Representative Doris Matsui for introducing the Digital Equity Foundation Act of 2022," said Brenda Victoria Castillo, President & CEO of the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC). "This legislation will create the Foundation for Digital Equity that will help address digital inequities by promoting outreach and partnerships with nonprofits and digital civil rights organizations to close the digital divide. With a third of Latine households lacking access to the internet, affordable and reliable internet access and digital literacy are essential for our communities to prosper and become integral participants of our increasingly digital world.” 

Jim Steyer, Founder and CEO of Common Sense Media said, “We celebrate the announcement of The Digital Equity Foundation Act, an effort that would fund digital inclusion programs and affordable broadband access. The pandemic showed us that families need reliable, affordable high-speed internet service, devices, and ongoing digital inclusion support to work and learn, and marginalized communities are often the ones left without access. As we’ve seen recently, extreme weather and other disruptions to in-person learning have forced some schools to shift back to digital curriculum, making ongoing digital equity support crucial to keep all kids and families connected to learning. This effort ensures we are prepared to nimbly and effectively respond to future disruptions to in-person learning. While we’ve made great progress with historic investments in broadband infrastructure and affordability, we need innovative policy solutions like the Digital Equity Foundation Act to maintain this progress toward closing the digital divide. We applaud Senator Lujan and Representative Matsui for their leadership on this initiative.”

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