Program Updates - April 2024

Massachusetts State Digital Equity Plan & Capacity Grant Allocation Announced

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) recently announced $14M in allocated funding for Massachusetts. The State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program provides funding to enable the state to carry out its digital equity plan, which the NTIA approved in late March. More information on this grant program and how it will help bridge the digital divide can be found here. Massachusetts will apply for the funding by Tuesday, May 28, after which it will be evaluated by NTIA and the final allocation for Massachusetts will be determined. 

BEAD Challenge Process to Launch Soon

The Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI) needs your help to update internet availability maps. The NTIA has approved MBI's Volume 1 of the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) Initial Proposal. This spring, MBI will launch a Challenge Process as part of the BEAD Program, giving local governments and municipalities, non-profits, tribal governments and internet service providers a voice to review the accuracy of the FCC's broadband map is accurate. 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. 

The Challenge Process will take place over 120-day period: 


  • Challenge Submission Period (30 days): This is your opportunity to submit challenges.  
  • ISPs Rebuttal Period (30 days): ISPs have 30 days to respond and provide their perspective.  
  • Adjudication Period (60 days): MBI will take 60 days to review all challenges and make informed decisions. 


You can prepare for the Challenge Process and receive program updates by filling out an expression of interest on the MBI website. You can also attend an informational webinar MBI and the Massachusetts Municipal Association (MMA) will host on Monday, April 22 at 12:00 p.m. to learn about why the Challenge Process is important, who can submit challenges, and the anticipated timeline.  

Lead For America Host Site, Member Applications Open

The Lead for America program application period is open for 2024-25 host sites and members. Last year, MBI partnered with the Lead for America American Connection Corps (ACC) program to establish a first-of-its-kind digital equity fellowship opportunity in Massachusetts and placed individuals at organizations throughout the state to increase capacity for digital inclusion activities. This year, ACC will work to once again place members in organizations, including in tribal lands, to close the digital divide. 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 for Municipal Digital Equity Implementation Nearing

The deadline for municipalities with completed digital equity plans to apply for the Municipal Digital Equity Implementation Program is approaching. This program aims to mobilize, start-up and implement digital equity activities locally through a one-time grant of up to $100,000 per eligible municipality to execute a project (or projects) defined in their Digital Equity Plan, Digital Equity Charette Report or related document that MBI deems of sufficient standard. Project implementation will increase access and usage of the internet for the populations most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interested municipalities must apply by Friday, May 31 unless they have requested a Reservation of Funds Agreement from MBI to reserve funding that can be accessed by submitting a formal application to the Implementation Program at a later date. Please note the deadline for municipalities to enroll in the Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program has passed and MBI will no longer be accepting new applications.

Apply Today

Residential Retrofit Program Networking Opportunities

Housing operators, ISPs and workforce development organizations interested in the Residential Retrofit Program are invited to a networking opportunity. MBI’s upcoming in-person networking events will take place on Wednesday, April 24 at the La Colaborativa Survival Center in Chelsea and on Tuesday, April 30 in Springfield at Tech Foundry. Both events will run from 9:30 a.m. - 11:30 a.m. and include breakfast, networking opportunities, program information, presentations and small group breakout sessions.  

Presenters for Chelsea:

  • Alex Train, Chief Operating Officer, La Colaborativa 
  • Josh Lee, Wireless Practice Lead, Harbor Networks 
  • Tammi Jacobson, Director of Workforce Development, Cape Cod Community College 
  • Bryan Hopkins, President, Comm-Tract Group 
  • H. Kay Howard, Senior Director, Per Scholas  
  • Dan Boucher, Regional PMO, Comcast 
  • Matt Frank, Director of Resident Services, Chelsea Housing Authority

Presenters for Springfield:

  • Tricia Canavan, CEO, Tech Foundry 
  • Joe Colleli, Senior Consultant, Harbor Networks 
  • John Angelica, Low Voltage Systems Lead, Collins Electric
  • Christopher Manring, Recruiting and Development Manager, Phoenix 
  • Tammi Jacobson, Director of Workforce Development, Cape Cod Community College 
  • TBD, Representative, POAH
  • Bernadette Deleon-Rees, Managing Director, Per Scholas  
  • Dan Boucher, Regional PMO, Comcast

Additionally, MBI has officially launched a Request For Information (RFI) for internet service providers (ISPs) interested in MBI's Residential Retrofit Program. Housing operators can continue to express their desire to participate in the program by filling out an Expression of Interest form and visiting the website to learn more.

February Events: NAHRO Spring Conference, ACC Train the Trainer and ENB Immigrant Small Business Pitch

Boston-based business, Magic Empanadas, won first place at English for New Bostonian's Immigrant Small Business Pitch

MBI was proud to sponsor and attend English for New Bostonian’s (ENB) Immigrant Small Business Pitch event on February 28. During the event, six individuals had the opportunity to pitch their entrepreneurial ideas to a panel of judges. The winner of the $100,000 first-place prize was the Boston-based business, Magic Empanadas, HL Tea & Coffee taking second place, and Beauty by Venard placing third in the contest. 

MBI attended ACC's Train the Trainer pop-up event on March 6. The event took place at the FGH Conference room in Boston and provided an opportunity for patients of the Boston Medical Center and others to share their experience using devices and accessing telehealth and MyChart. ACC members and staff also gave information about the usage of telehealth and MyChart and offered one-to-one support for the online tools. 

Tony Schloss and Joell Tolifero of Education Superhighway, Will Pfeffer of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) and MBI Program Director Josh Eichen (Pictured left to right)

MBI proudly sponsored and attended the Massachusetts chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO)’s 2024 Spring Conference March 24 - 26. MBI Director of Program Development Josh Eichen attended the conference at UMass Amherst to promote the Residential Retrofit Program. He was joined by Tony Schloss and Joelle Tolifero of Education Superhighway and Will Pfeffer of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC). 

Meet the MBI Team: Digital Equity Planner Ariana Sarmiento Fielding

Meet MBI’s Digital Equity Planner Ariana Sarmiento Fielding. Ariana oversees the Municipal Digital Equity Planning and Implementation Programs helping communities across the state develop and execute their digital equity plans. At MBI, she works with towns and cities to secure consulting support to develop digital equity plans, provide feedback on proposed digital equity projects and collaborate with the team to help bridge the digital divide. Find Ariana and the rest of the MBI team’s contact information here.

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