Because broadband connectivity is essential infrastructure, lack of access to it is an equity issue that must be addressed. While the digital divide has been recognized as an issue in Kansas for some time, the coronavirus pandemic has elevated its scale and impact, especially in low-income neighborhoods, communities of color, rural and other underresourced areas of the state. In order for Kansas families to attain the best possible educational, economic, and health outcomes, digital access and literacy is a necessity.
To that end, the Kansas Health Foundation (KHF) will engage four organizations to co-create and implement a shared strategic agenda around advocacy for greater digital access, literacy, and broadband adoption among families of color, low-wage worker households, and others experiencing greater systemic barriers that contribute to the wealth gap. Each of the four organizations will receive up to $250,000 over three years (up to $83,333/year), beginning August 1, 2021, and ending July 31, 2024.
KHF is especially interested in engaging collaborative partners to advance equitable digital access and literacy. The foundation is asking funded organizations to engage in a strategic planning process and policy and advocacy efforts to: develop a framework unique to the local context with respect to advocacy for policies, programs, and services that promote digital inclusion, provide increased access to a stable, robust internet connection and appropriate devices, and identify/connect communities experiencing the greatest inequities to resources to learn digital literacy skills; educate community members about the disparities in home service usage and build local capacity necessary for more widespread broadband adoption and digital education; create a business case for greater adoption to encourage Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to explore how to extend services to communities with lower home adoption rates; ensure that “Smart City” or other city-wide technology initiatives build equity into the planning process to avoid worsening the digital divide; and closely track and leverage sources of federal funding being made available to ensure consumers facing the greatest barriers benefit. Managing and coordinating resources as they become available will be an ongoing part of the strategic planning process.
Central to this process is involving those most affected by the above issues to participate in crafting solutions and creating a structure within the collaborative that creates opportunities for meaningful engagement.
All proposals must be submitted through KHF’s online portal between 8:00 a.m. CST on April 28 and 5:00 p.m. CST on June 4. To access the portal and submit a proposal, applicants must have a current user account. If an applicant does not have a current user account, one may be created from the online portal’s login page.
To assist interested applicants with the submission process, KHF has made a PDF version of the Digital Equity and Inclusion Collaborative grant application here. This is document is not to be submitted in lieu of the online application.
Interested applicants are encouraged (not required) to attend an informational webinar via Zoom at 2:00 p.m. CST on Tuesday, May 4, 2021. (Registration required.) To participate, please click on this link to register to .
For additional details, see the Kansas Health Foundation website.