MBI and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts re committed to closing the digital divide and ensuring digital equity for all residents. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought heightened attention to the importance of broadband access and adoption in almost every facet of daily life. Access to affordable broadband service is no longer considered a luxury, but an essential utility. The need for broadband in the 21st century is often compared to the need for electricity or phone service in previous centuries. Achieving digital equity in the Commonwealth is a critically important goal for our future prosperity. The lack of digital equity impacts our society in profound ways – hindering our citizens’ access to economic prosperity, health care, educational attainment, and civic and social engagement.
Learn more about digital equity in the state in the Massachusetts Strategic Broadband Plan
Digital Equity Partnerships Program
The Digital Equity Partnerships Program will designate qualified organizations as Partners to implement digital equity projects that meet the goals outlined in the Commonwealth’s ARPA COVID recovery legislation (codified as Chapter 102 of the Acts of 2021), that created a $50 million fund to bridge the digital divide. Partners will work with local and regional organizations to implement digital equity projects in six program areas:
- WiFi Access Initiative
- Public Space Internet Modernization Initiative
- Connectivity Initiative for Economic Hardship
- Digital Literacy Initiative
- Device Distribution and Refurbishment Program
- Education, Outreach and Adoption
Find out more about the Digital Equity Partnerships Program
View the Grant Solicitation for Digital Equity Partnerships
Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program
MBI is preparing to launch the Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program in Fall 2022 to enable municipalities to engage in planning activities and develop strategic documents related to digital equity and bridging the digital divide. The goal of this program is to:
- Guide municipal decision-making and investments related to services and infrastructure; and
- Prepare municipalities to apply for state or federal digital equity grants.
MBI is currently prequalifying consultants to assist municipalities with digital equity planning activities.
Learn more about the Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program
View the RFQ for Consultants to provide Municipal Digital Equity Planning Services
Recovery Plan Programs
These programs are part of the $774 million economic recovery plan announced by the Administration in October 2020, called “Partnerships for Recovery,” to boost internet connectivity statewide. That plan included funding that was designated for an expansion of internet access and digital equity programs, which are outlined below.
Gateway Cities & Outer Cape Wireless Internet and Digital Equity
Launched in December 2020, this program was created to establish and maintain wireless access projects, including indoor and outdoor access to wireless internet service and support for digital equity projects in Gateway Cities and the Outer Cape. MBI awarded grants to:
- Essex County Community Foundation (ECCF) to support projects in Haverhill, Lawrence, Salem, Methuen, Lynn and Peabody;
- The Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) to support projects in Chelsea, Everett, Malden, Revere and Quincy;
- The City of Fitchburg to support wireless access projects; and
- OpenCape to support wireless access projects in Barnstable Village, Osterville, Eastham and Wellfleet.
Mass Internet Connect
Launched in January 2021, Mass Internet Connect (MIC) is a program to assist unemployed job seekers working with MassHire that face one or more technology barriers, including accessing or using a computer or the internet.
Find out more about Mass Internet Connect