AARP Nebraska wants to ensure that the state takes full advantage of federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding to help improve access to high-speed internet for all Nebraskans.
In a letter to Gov. Pete Ricketts, AARP Nebraska State Director Todd Stubbendieck strongly urged him to apply for up to $600,000 available under the federal Digital Equity Planning Grant Program.
“High-speed internet access is particularly important to older adults, to help them age in place safely. High-speed internet access also helps older adults to live independently and maintain active participation in the work force,” Stubbendieck wrote. “Yet studies continue to show that older adults and many who reside in rural areas are less likely to have a high-speed internet connection or fully utilize the wide-ranging capabilities of broadband service. Through its participation in this program, Nebraskans can help to overcome these gaps.”
Nebraska has until July 12 to apply for the grant. The grant is a required first step for the state to obtain significantly more money to support implementation of a digital adoption plan. The state will have one year to design the plan after the grant is approved.
The full text of the letter to Gov. Ricketts is below.
June 15, 2022
Dear Governor Ricketts:
AARP Nebraska, on behalf of our over 180,000 members, would like to thank you for your efforts to improve access to high speed internet for all Nebraskans. AARP has been closely tracking the many opportunities for states to apply for federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act funding, including monies being made available for high-speed internet access deployment and adoption. The deadline for taking advantage of one such opportunity is fast approaching. We are writing to strongly urge your consideration in applying for the funding which would greatly benefit Nebraskans.
July 12, 2022 is the deadline for Nebraska to apply to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for funds available under the Digital Equity Planning Grant program. This is a preliminary (but mandatory) step to obtain funding to implement a Digital Adoption Plan (which the state will have a full year to design after the planning grant is approved). Up to $600,000 is available to Nebraska to prepare its plan, and significantly more money will be available to fund implementation of a fully developed plan.
The scope of the activities that can be funded through this program is broad. For example, it might be used for mapping projects that identify gaps in adoption of high-speed internet services among rural consumers and older adults. It can be used for training programs at local libraries or community centers that help new internet users become more comfortable with accessing and using a wide variety of internet-based resources. There are many, many possibilities – and state ownership of a plan for addressing these possibilities is critical. The goal is to ensure that high-speed internet access can be adopted by households throughout the state so that all Nebraskans can participate fully in today’s increasingly digital economy.
High-speed internet access is particularly important to older adults, to help them age in place safely (providing access to telehealth, maintaining social connections, etc.). High-speed internet access also helps older adults to live independently and maintain active participation in the work force. Yet studies continue to show that older adults and many who reside in rural areas are less likely to have a high-speed internet connection or fully utilize the wide-ranging capabilities of broadband service. Through its participation in this program, Nebraskans can help to overcome these gaps.
We would like to thank you again your continued leadership in advancing access to high speed internet for all Nebraskans. AARP remains committed to expanding older Americans’ access to and productive use of the internet to contribute to the social and economic welfare of Nebraska. Please don’t hesitate to let us know how we might be able to assist staff responsible for broadband planning to complete this application process. Guidance on completing the application is available on the NTIA website, and NTIA personnel are available to answer questions.