Planning Grants for Digital Equity
Connect Humanity’s Digital Equity Planning Grants support communities to establish a holistic plan of action to achieve their digital equity goals.
As part of the Infrastructure Investments and Jobs Act (IIJA), the US Government established Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) and the Digital Equity Act (DEA). Together these programs provide $45 billion+ to support unserved and underserved communities to access the broadband, devices, and skills they need to participate fully in our digital world. Many of these communities currently lack the time, resources, and technical know-how to design the broadband plans they need to receive this funding.
That’s why Connect Humanity supports low-income communities and communities of color to create Digital Equity Connectivity Plans. This process will identify the community’s digital needs and create a robust plan to meet them. The broadband networks that result will provide families and businesses with the reliable, affordable connectivity they need, leading to economic development, social mobility, and healthier communities.
Photo by Antony Trivet
A plan for better broadband
Efforts to bring better broadband to a community must start with a clear plan. This program provides grantees with funding and expertise to establish a holistic Digital Equity Connectivity Plan which will help them secure the partnerships and financing they need to advance internet access in their communities — and will be critical whether or not they receive government funding.
We’ll tailor our support to meet you where you are, but typically we’d expect to partner with you to:
- Assess your community’s digital needs: to understand the current broadband market, where the gaps are, and the barriers to digital equity that need to be addressed.
- Create a network design: to define the technical requirements, operating and ownership model of the network.
- Build a business plan: with a sustainable revenue model, clear funding options, and a community engagement strategy.
We will help you connect with industry expertise and networks that can support your mission.
Create a broadband plan
We will take you through the steps necessary to create a build-ready plan for a sustainable broadband network.
Your broadband plan will prepare you to apply for BEAD, DEA, and other government and non-government broadband investments.
Who can apply
We welcome applications from those who have identified a need and have the motivation and capacity to make a project work. In practice this means you’ll have:
- A clear idea of the geographic area you aim to connect.
- An entity or group to lead the planning process, receive project funds, and take responsibility for the implementation of the build.
- Support from the community you aim to connect, with community members represented in the project team.
- Local political support for community-led efforts to improve broadband connectivity.
The project is open to applicants covering: Appalachian communities, Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, Washington DC, West Virginia.
To learn more about who should apply and how the project works, read our FAQs.
How to apply
To apply to take part in the program, please complete a readiness assessment so we can understand where you are on your journey to digital equity (here are the questions we ask in that assessment). If we think we can provide the support you need, we’ll invite you to move forward with the following steps:
- Conversation with our team
- Full application
- Both sides decide whether to continue
- Identify technical consultants
- Project kicks-off
- Project completed
We expect the project will be a 4-6 month process, from application to completion. Once you have your plan, we’ll continue to support you to secure funding to build your broadband network.