Our Digital Navigators are Compton College students who are dedicated to the mission of advancing digital equity and closing the digital divide. Trained by NextGen Policy team members, and supported by Compton College, our Digital Navigators engage in community outreach, lead digital literacy workshops, and staff our community tech help desk.
In 2022, AB 2750 (Bonta) was signed into law and directed the California Department of Technology (CDT) to develop a State Digital Equity Plan focused on identifying and addressing barriers to Digital Equity. The bill also required CDT to work with a range of government entities, educational partners, community groups, and residents to collaboratively produce the state’s digital equity plan – ensuring input from a wide range of stakeholders. In 2023, advocates, stakeholders, community partners, and NextGen Policy began the process of helping craft this state plan.
The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), passed by Congress and signed into law in November 2021, allocated a historic $65 billion towards ensuring all Americans gain access to affordable, reliable, high-speed internet. The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, established under the IIJA, appropriates $42.45 billion for States, Territories, and the District of Columbia (DC) to utilize for broadband deployment, mapping, and adoption projects. NextGen Policy is determined to make the most of this once-in-a-generation investment in digital skills, digital inclusion, and digital equity by building on the momentum of this federal law through our Connect Corps program.
The funding and the planning from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the State Digital Equity Plan will drive meaningful ideas, community collaboration, and much-needed outreach to underserved populations. But it is not enough. NextGen Policy’s Digital Navigator pilot program, in partnership with Compton College, helps fill a critical gap by providing on the ground resources to those who’ve been left behind — serving as one of the many ways to bridge the Digital Divide.
We aim to provide community members the skills and devices needed to confidently, safely, and successfully navigate the internet. By doing so, they will be empowered to make better-informed decisions about their education, healthcare, and digital footprint while simultaneously opening the door to more economic opportunity. Connecting people to the resources they need means no one gets left behind.
We envision a future where every person and every family in California has access to affordable, reliable, and fast internet, along with the necessary skills and devices to access the digital world. Building a 21st-century economy, opening the doors of opportunity to historically marginalized and disadvantaged communities, and ensuring California’s commitment to innovation, growth, and success all rely on this outcome. Achieving Digital Equity is a must.