Welcoming Community: Digital Equity

In the March edition of the Welcoming Community newsletter, we explore the topic of digital equity. As defined by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA), digital equity refers to a state in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy.

Digital equity acknowledges and attempts to dismantle the systemic barriers that certain individuals, groups, and communities face. These barriers may include the inability to afford internet service, digital illiteracy, limited accessibility of digital devices, broadband infrastructure gaps in rural areas, and more. In an increasingly technology-driven world, digital equity aims to ensure that all community members have access to critical services and resources and can fully take part in opportunities for civic and cultural engagement, employment, and learning.

Throughout northeastern Minnesota, concerted efforts are underway to promote digital equity. Although the national Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) providing internet subsidies for low-income individuals and families is slated to end in early 2024, there is still hope for digital equity on the horizon. The Northland has recently been awarded substantial state and national funding to expand rural broadband infrastructure, and many groups continue to champion various forms of digital equity at a grassroots level throughout our community.

Further welcoming efforts to promotedigital equity might include:

  • Engaging with local authorities and internet service providers to promote the continued expansion of broadband infrastructure in rural areas.
  • Public advocacy for initiatives that support affordable,high-speed internet access for all.
  • Supporting community tech hubs, such as community centers, libraries, and schools, that provide free, accessible Wi-Fi and help with navigating technology and digital literacy.
  • Donating new or gently used laptops, tablets, and smartphones to organizations or individuals in need to promote equitable access to digital devices.

The digital world has become inextricably interwoven into our daily lives. Considering the relationships between broadband access and digital inclusion is essential to understanding a more complete picture of equity across the Northland. Visit the Resources to Explore section below to learn more about initiatives to improve digital equity, access, and inclusion across the Northland.

In a digital society, digital rights are civil rights. Access to the internet has changed everything.” –Francella Ochillo

Continued Learning

The goal of the Welcoming Community program is to provide the community with continued opportunities for learning and connection related to topics relevant to diversity, equity, and inclusion in our region. In our monthly updates, we highlight a specific equity topic and provide resources related to the monthly theme.

The theme for the month of March is digital equity. When exploring the learnings in the Resources to Explore section below, we ask you to consider the following question:

“In terms of digital equity in northeast Minnesota, where have we come from, where are we now, and what steps do we need to take to reach an equitable future?”

Resources to Explore

MN Office of Broadband Development: Draft Digital Opportunity Plan

MN Department of Employment and Economic Development: Progress Toward Minnesota’s Broadband Goals

MN Department of Education: What is digital inclusion?


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Welcoming Events Across the Northland

Minnesota Film Festival
April 3 7, 2024
Zeitgeist Arts Building, Duluth, MN
Learn more here

DAWNtrepreneur Showcase & Pitch Competition
April 11, 2024, 5:00 – 8:15 PM
The Forge, Grand Rapids, MN
Learn more here

Celebrating Native American Fashion
April 13, 2024, 12:00 – 2:00 PM
Tweed Museum of Art, Duluth, MN
Learn more here

Iron Range Earthfest
April 20, 2024, 9:00 AM3:00 PM
Iron Trail Motors Event Center, Virginia, MN
Learn more here

Homegrown Music Festival
April 28 May 5, 2024
Learn more here

[More Events]


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Welcoming in the News

KAXE: DEED grants $11M to Northern Minnesota broadband projects

MinnPost: Still more connections to make

Duluth News Tribune: 2024 Rosie Awards honor women across Northland

WDIO: First Youth Climate Summit at Rock Ridge brought together like-minded young people

Fox 21: Employment Agency Helping Bring Older Folks Back To Work

PBS North: Almanac North | Small Business

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Invite a Friend

If you know others in your community that would be interested in participating with Welcoming Community programming, please share this post so they can learn more and Click Here to join our email list.

Contact Northspan’s Welcoming Community Program Coordinator Amber Lewis at alewis@northspan.org with any questions.