Amid the many changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, the shift to virtual schooling, remote work, and telemedicine made it clear: equitable access to the Internet is essential. The Broadband Task Force will work to identify major obstacles limiting access to high-speed internet, develop state and local solutions, and advocate for a strong federal-state-local partnership. Equity will be a cornerstone of the Task Force’s work, recognizing the disturbingly high lack of internet access among certain communities, including for people of color. A recent study by the Alliance for Excellent Education found 1 in 3 Black, Latino, and American Indian/Alaska Native students do not have high-speed home internet access.
Chaired by Michigan Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist, San Jose, CA Mayor Sam Liccardo, and Florida State Senator Loranne Ausley, the group will bring together state and local officials with policy experts and partners from the non-profit and private sectors. The Task Force plans to convene monthly for in-depth conversations on closing the digital divide and to highlight effective efforts in communities across the country. The co-chairs will release guidance for state and local leaders based on these discussions and the work of participating public officials and partners.
The Task Force recently submitted a letter to the United States Treasury, offering feedback on the Interim Final Rule governing the use of American Rescue Plan recovery funds. Read the letter, signed by the group’s three co-chairs, for details on how the rule could be improved to allow for more investment in the high-speed Internet access that so many still lack.