New York Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that the New York State’s ConnectALL office has been awarded $7.2 million through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment and Digital Equity Act programs, achieving what she called a “critical milestone” for the office.
The governor’s office confirmed that the ConnectALL office will use the Federal funds over the coming months to “engage New Yorkers across the state to produce comprehensive statewide broadband deployment and digital equity plans.” Gov. Hochul’s office added that these plans will “provide the roadmap for the state’s utilization of Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funds to close New York State’s remaining digital divide.”
The funding includes $5 million from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, and $2.2 million from the State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program; both Federal programs are administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
The ConnectALL Office will use the funding from both grant programs to support a comprehensive statewide planning and stakeholder engagement effort that will inform the state’s approach for subsequent implementation of other grant funds allocated. New York State has unified planning and implementation for both the BEAD and Digital Equity programs under ConnectALL to ensure a coordinated and integrated approach that will address the complete range of barriers to broadband access and use currently affecting New Yorkers, the governor’s office said.
ConnectALL’s engagement efforts will include extensive outreach and collaboration with a diverse range of stakeholders across the state, including elected officials; local, regional, and Tribal governments; members of the public; internet service providers; community anchor institutions; non-profit and community-based organizations; labor organizations and unions; libraries; educational institutions; and many others.
In a statement, Gov. Hochul said ConnectALL will work with these partners across the state to identify broadband deployment and digital equity challenges, priorities, and opportunities; leverage their expertise to inform the state’s approach; ensure that the state’s plans are aligned with efforts already underway; and maximize the economic development, job creation, education, and health impacts of planned broadband investments. New York expects it will be able to begin announcing its public stakeholder engagement events in January 2023.
ConnectALL will also use the funding to hire the state’s first director of digital equity and additional staff positions, as well as to establish two fellowships housed within the New York State Library to support digital equity planning and coordination. The state will also establish a Digital Equity Interagency Taskforce to convene state agencies overseeing service delivery to key populations. The state will also convene a Broadband Access Advisory Committee to advise on broadband and digital equity planning and implementation statewide.