Program Updates - May 2024

Digital Equity Partnerships Program Helps Thousands of Individuals in First Quarter of 2024

UMass Lowell, a partner in the Digital Equity Partnership Program, works with the African Community Center of Lowell.

The Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) Digital Equity Partnerships Program has completed several important initiatives throughout the first quarter of the year. The program provides funding for nine qualified organizations to implement digital equity projects. In the first quarter of 2024, the partners have taken significant steps to close the digital divide:

  • Distributing over 1,200 internet-connected devices, including Chromebooks, laptops and tablets; 
  • Teaching digital literacy skills to more than 1,370 people; 
  • Supporting 679 individuals through the Connectivity for Economic Hardship initiative; and 
  • Raising awareness of additional low-cost options for individuals enrolled in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). Prior to February 8, 2024, the Partnership Program had enrolled over 7,000 residents in the ACP.


This work is being done across the state, covering 52 unique zip codes, with the assistance of over 100 community partners. More information about the program, including awardees and their project work, can be found here.  

BEAD Challenge Process to Launch in June

MBI needs your help to update internet availability maps. In June, MBI will launch a Challenge Process as part of the Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program, which will allow local governments, non-profits, tribal governments and internet service providers, as approved eligible entities, to contest the FCC's broadband map. These entities may submit challenges supported by evidence to MBI to dispute the status of whether specific locations have access to reliable broadband service. The outcome of this process will be to identify locations that do not have reliable high-speed internet service to be appropriately classified as eligible for BEAD funding. 

Those interested in serving as eligible entities can pre-register by completing the expression of interest form. This will also ensure that you receive BEAD Challenge Process updates via email. Officials interested in understanding their communities' status can view the FCC data by municipality here.

Past Webinar Resources

On April 4, 2024, MBI hosted a webinar to provide more information about the process and why it is important. The webinar can be viewed here.

On April 22, 2024, the Massachusetts Municipal Association and MBI partnered to provide an additional webinar to municipalities. The presentation used for that webinar can be viewed here

Lead For America Program Seeking Host Site, Members

The American Connection Corps (ACC) Lead For America Program is seeking non-profit organizations and individuals interested in participating in the program for the 2024-25 year.

For the second year, MBI and ACC will work together to place digital equity cohort members with host sites across Massachusetts. The members will work to increase capacity for digital inclusion activities and close the digital divide.

On April 25, 2024, ACC and MBI hosted a webinar for potential host sites to discuss the benefits of the program and application process. The webinar can be viewed here. 

Organizations interested in becoming a host site and individuals interested in participating in the program as a member can find more information and the applications here.

Apply Now

Application Deadline Approaching for

Municipal Digital Equity Implementation Program

The application period for the Municipal Digital Equity Implementation Program is quickly approaching. Municipalities with completed digital equity plans can apply for the program by Friday, May 31. However, if the municipality has requested a Reservation of Funds Agreement from MBI to reserve funding, they can submit a formal application to the Implementation Program at a later date.  


MBI’s Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program closed on April 12. In total, 106 municipalities are currently enrolled in the program, including 21 gateway cities and the city of Boston. As of April 26, 2024, eight municipalities had completed their digital equity plan. PDFs of completed plans can be viewed here.

Apply Today

Residential Retrofit Program Brings Together Workforce, Broadband and Housing Sectors

(Pictured left to right) MBI Program Director Josh Eichen, Tech Foundry CEO Tricia Canavan, Cape Cod Community College Director of Workforce Development Tammi Jacobson, Comcast Regional PMO Dan Boucher, POAH Senior Communications and Public Policy Associate Nate Flynn, Per Scholas Managing Director Bernadette Deleon-Rees, Phoenix Recruiting and Development Manger Chris Manring, Harbor Networks Senior Consultant Joe Colleli and Collins Electric VP of Operations Andrew Collins.

On April 24 and April 30, 2024, MBI gathered more than 100 members of the workforce, broadband business and housing communities in-person to network with others interested in participating in the Residential Retrofit Program, hear from industry leaders and provide feedback to MBI. The events took place at La Colaborativa Survival Center in Chelsea and at Tech Foundry in Springfield.

Learn more about the Residential Retrofit Program here.

April Events: 2024 Digital Equity Challenge

Kate Machet (far left), Essex County Community Foundation Director of Strategic Initiatives and Government Relations, poses with members of the winners of the Digital Equity Challenge.

(Photo by Kimberly Jackle of Chirp Photo Studio)

On May 2, MBI team members attended the 2024 Digital Equity Challenge hosted by the UMass Lowell Innovation Hub Haverhill and the Essex County Community Foundation. Begun in 2022, the Challenge seeks community-based entrepreneurial solutions addressing digital equity in Essex County with a focus on increasing digital literacy, accessing devices and technology, and elevating racial equity in digital resources and opportunities. This year Lawrence Community Works took first place for their proposal of installation of WiFi in affordable housing communities. The Mass Association for Computer and Internet Resources (MACIR) placed second for their workforce development IT support certification program pitch. The TDI Partnership Lawrence Corridor took third place with their public space modernization to provide internet access in Lawrence Corridor pitch. They also won the Fan Favorite award. 

Meet the MBI Team: Digital Equity, Outreach and Engagement Manager, Cheryl Cross

Meet MBI Digital Equity, Outreach and Engagement Manager Cheryl Cross. Cheryl oversees MBI’s partnership with ACC for the Lead For America Program to place members of a digital equity cohort at host sites around Massachusetts. Additionally, she works to collaborate with digital equity stakeholders across the state to close the digital divide. Find Cheryl and the rest of the MBI team’s contact information here.

In the News

Select Broadband News from Around the State

  • CCTV Cambridge's initiative to lift up digital equity through the Digital Equity Partnerships Program was summarized by

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