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PSN Model Digital Inclusion Legislation

 

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Model Legislation on Digital Inclusion


AN ACT Relating to addressing the digital literacy and technology training needs of low-income and underserved areas through state support of community technology programs

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF _________________: 

Sec. 1. The legislature finds that information technology plays an essential role in the state's economy but that an increased knowledge level and adoption of information technologies are needed, especially in low income and underserved populations of the state. It is the intent of this act to address digital literacy and technology training needs of low-income and underserved areas of the state through state support of community technology programs.

Sec. 2. The definitions

Sec. 3. Community Technology Programs: The technology opportunity program is created to support the efforts of community technology programs and community centers throughout the state working to increase digital literacy and digital skills among low income and underserved populations. The technology opportunity program must be administered by _____________________.

  1. In implementing the technology opportunity program the center must: 

    A. Provide organizational and capacity building support to community technology programs throughout the state, and identify and facilitate the availability of other public and private sources of funds to enhance the purposes of this chapter and the work of community technology programs. No more than fifteen percent of funds received by the center for the program may be expended on these functions; 

    B. Establish a competitive grant program and provide grants to community technology programs to provide training and skill-building opportunities, access to hardware and software, internet connectivity, and assistance in the adoption of information and communication technologies in low-income and underserved areas of the state. The purposes of the grants shall include, but not be limited to, volunteer recruitment and management, training and instruction, infrastructure, and related goods and services, including case management, administration, personal information management, and outcome-tracking tools and software for the purposes of reporting to the Department and for enabling participation in digital government and consumer services programs. The total amount of grants under this Section in fiscal year 200_ shall ____________________.

    C. Public libraries, State educational agencies, local educational agencies, institutions of higher education, and other public and private nonprofit or for-profit agencies and organizations are eligible to receive grants under this Program, provided that a local educational agency or public or private educational agency or organization must, in order to be eligible to receive grants under this Program, provide computer access and educational services using information technology to the public at one or more of its educational buildings or facilities at least 12 hours each week and the funds are utilized only for digital inclusion programs.


  2. Grant applicants must: 

    A. Provide evidence that the applicant is a nonprofit entity; 

    B. Define the geographic area or population to be served; 

    (To be eligible to apply for a grant, a Community Technology Center or other eligible entity must be in a community in which not less than 40% of the students are eligible for a free or reduced price lunch under the national school lunch program or in which not less than 30% of the students are eligible for a free lunch under the national school lunch program; however, if funding is insufficient to approve all grant applications for a particular fiscal year, the Department may impose a higher minimum percentage threshold for that fiscal year. Determinations of communities and determinations of the percentage of students in a community who are eligible for a free or reduced price lunch under the national school lunch program shall be in accordance with rules adopted by the Department. Any entities that have received a Community Technology Center grant under the federal Community Technology Centers Program are also eligible to apply for grants under this Program.)

    C. Include in the application the results of a needs assessment addressing, in the geographic area or among the population to be served: The impact of inadequacies in technology access or knowledge, barriers faced, and services needed;

    D. Explain in detail the strategy for addressing the needs identified and an implementation plan including objectives, tasks, and benchmarks for the applicant and the role that other organizations will play in assisting the applicant's efforts;

    E. Provide evidence of matching funds and resources committed to the applicant's strategy and evidence that funds applied for, if received, will be used to increase the applicant's level of effort beyond the current level; and


  3. The non-profit entity may use no more than ten percent of funds received for the technology opportunity program to cover administrative expenses.

  4. The non-profit entity must establish expected program outcomes for each grant recipient and must require grant recipients to provide an annual accounting of program outcomes.

Sec. 4. The technology opportunity account is established in the state treasury. All receipts from the provisions of sections () and () of this act must be deposited into the account. Donated funds from private and public sources may also be deposited into the account. Expenditures from the account may be used only for the operation of the technology opportunity program.

Sec. 5. Computer Donation Programs: The state shall encourage local companies and organizations, by waiving recycling cost, to donate refurbished, old computers and peripherals to under-served populations as a means of increasing access to and adoption of broadband and technology.

Sec. 6. There is created the Digital Inclusion Working Group. The Working Group shall consist of _________________, or his or her designee, -----------------

  1. Duties of the Digital Inclusion Working Group include all of the following:

    A. Undertake a thorough review of grant programs available through the federal government, local agencies, telecommunications providers, and business and charitable entities for the purpose of identifying appropriate sources of revenues for the Digital Inclusion Fund and attempting to update available grants on a regular basis.

    B. Explore using state buying power to negotiate bulk buys from technology suppliers and thus getting a discount on purchases and making technology more affordable. 

    C. Analyze how to support of the public-sector and private-sector partnerships, the philanthropic community, and other not-for-profit organizations in the community, along with strong relationships with the board of education and higher-level institutions, build a sustainable infrastructure that provides a variety of access alternatives for citizens.

    D. Plan for long-term sustainability. Digital inclusion initiatives should be seen as long-term components of a community’s offerings to its citizens and an ever-present vehicle to help states meet a variety of economic, health care, environmental and educational goals. Long-term sustainability is a critical factor to ensure prolonged access to economic opportunity in our digital economy. For state governments it is the opportunity and the challenge that will influence economics, policy, and politics.

    E. Research and catalog programs designed to advance digital literacy and computer access that are available through the federal government, local agencies, telecommunications providers, and business and charitable entities and attempting to update available programs on a regular basis.

    F. Present the information compiled from items (1) and (2) to the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, which shall serve as a single point of contact for applying for funding for the Digital Inclusion Fund and for distributing information to the public regarding all programs designed to advance digital literacy and computer access.