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Equity Lens

Theresa Greenfield (State Director in Iowa, USDA Rural Development); Congresswoman Cindy Axne; Roy Salcedo; Matt Russell (State Executive Director, Iowa Farm Service Agency).

On June 26, 2022, Congresswoman Cindy Axne (representing the 3rd District of Iowa) hosted the Rural Broadband Roundtable with USDA Iowa Leaders in Woodward, Iowa to discuss the work on expanding coverage for Iowans. In 2020, the world had to embrace digital transformation at an exponential rate due to COVID-19 and reimagine technology’s role in our everyday lives. COVID-19 also exposed the digital divide.

“Access to fast and reliable broadband is essential to go to school, go to work, and participate in the economy.” – Congresswoman Cindy Axne

What's a digital divide? It's an economic and social inequity regarding access to, use of, or impact of information and communication technologies as defined by Dr. Wilmon Brown.

How do we address it? The state was designated $100 million to expand affordable broadband internet in Iowa through the Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act. 

Recommendations: The Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT) lists Broadband Internet as one of the top three challenges for rural community colleges in their February 2021 report and recommend that we

  1. Redefine broadband as a public utility.  

  2. Legalize municipal broadband.

  3. Expand the FCC’s E-Rate Program.

Additionally, ACCT is hosting a webinar on September 12 from 2-3 PM CST to get a larger understanding of the state of play in the state and local leadership, school systems, internet providers, community-based organizations, and edtech organizations that have a hand in helping solve this problem.

See the webinar page for more information and registration.

How else can you help bridge the digital divide at your college? Start with a needs assessment.

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