Durbin Joins Colleagues To Introduce Legislation To Close Divide On Digital Equity, Inclusion, And Literacy

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) joined U.S. Senators Ben Ray Luján (D-NM), Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) to introduce the Digital Equity Foundation Act, legislation to establish a nonprofit foundation that would channel public and private investments into making progress in closing the divide on digital equity, digital inclusion, and digital literacy.  

This Foundation will supplement the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) work to award grants, support research, provide training and education, engage with stakeholders, collect data, and promote policies to improve digital equity outcomes. The Foundation will be run by a Board of experts specializing in the fields of digital equity, technology, and telecommunications, and it will represent diverse communities throughout the U.S.

Congressionally-established nonprofit foundations have had great success in supporting the missions of various government agencies, including the National Institutions of Health (NIH), U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the National Park Service (NPS), and provide a mechanism to leverage public-private partnerships and support innovation. As the NTIA works to implement the broadband programs in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act(IIJA) and connect our country, the Digital Equity Foundation will be vital to ensuring the most vulnerable communities have the knowledge and skills to take full advantage of these new connections.

“Broadband and communications technology are necessities in America today.  Kids rely on an internet connection to complete homework, and it connects people to their work and loved ones.  But for too many Illinoisans, these services are a luxury,” said Durbin. “I support the Digital Equity Foundation Act to bolster our efforts to make broadband and the opportunities connectivity brings accessible to everyone.”

This legislation is endorsed by the Open Technology Institute at New America, Public Knowledge, The Schools, Health & Libraries Broadband (SHLB) Coalition, the Center for Rural Strategies, the PtP Initiative, the National Hispanic Media Coalition, Common Sense Media, Consumer Reports, the American Library Association, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, Common Cause, and the National Consumer Law Center.  

Additional quotes from endorsing organizations are available HERE.

Full text of the bill is available HERE.