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The Digital Equity Action Plan (DEAP) harnesses the collective efforts of local partners (community-based organizations and nonprofits on the front lines of digital inclusion efforts, and local governments, businesses, schools, libraries, etc.) to focus services and resources on traditionally underserved and vulnerable residents. Specifically, the DEAP provides a framework for local partners to collaborate on 17 strategic actions that target inequities in access to high-speed internet at home and in school, devices to use the internet, and relevant training to gain digital literacy skills. The DEAP addresses key goals that the community identified as important to overcoming barriers to an inclusive and digitally-connected community:
GOAL 1 - Ensure access to affordable high-speed internet and devices;
GOAL 2 - Provide culturally-specific training and support;
GOAL 3 - Empower community partners through funding, coordination, and resource sharing;
GOAL 4 - Create digital economy job opportunities for underrepresented populations; and
GOAL 5 - Build a supportive public policy framework.
In June 2014, a small group of community stakeholders met to consider how to foster increased digital inclusion in our community. This small group bloomed into the Digital Inclusion Network (DIN), a coalition of community organizations interested in raising awareness about digital equity barriers and developing solutions to bridging the digital divide.
Soon thereafter, with the guidance and support of the DIN, OCT and Multnomah County Library staff kicked off digital inclusion planning with a Summit, attracting 80 organizations including participants from nonprofits, school districts, public agencies, businesses and higher education institutions. The Summit participants heard from local elected officials and others about the importance of digital equity and the current status of broadband adoption in the region and identified a collective community commitment to fostering a prosperous, digitally-inclusive community.
In 2015, building on the momentum inspired by the Summit, OCT and the County/Library held five culturally relevant focus groups for historically underrepresented populations, identified through local data for Multnomah County (Spanish, Chinese and Vietnamese speakers; people with hearing disabilities and African Americans). This process resulted in the Digital Equity Needs and Opportunities Report, which helped shape the DEAP, offering important insights into the specific needs of underserved and marginalized populations.
Leveraging the focus group data, national research on digital inclusion and equity, and the City’s Broadband Strategic Plan goals, OCT and the County/Library held three half-day workshops, bringing together a broad cross-section of community organizations, public agencies and broadband providers to help outline the framework for the DEAP. Draft action plans were vetted continuously by DIN members, who then testified in favor of adoption before the City Council, the Multnomah County Board of County Commissioners and the Library District Board in April 2016.