Community Collaboration Leads New Mexico Digital Equity Effort

The collaboration works to increase digital literacy training and expand high-speed connectivity across the state.

Community Collaboration Leads New Mexico Digital Equity Effort
Screenshot of Jennifer Nevarez of New Mexico's Community Learning Network

June 28, 2024 – A team of community foundations and philanthropic organizations is leading the effort to close the digital divide in New Mexico through the education nonprofit Community Learning Network, said leaders at a Benton Institute for Broadband and Society event Thursday.

Jennifer Nevarez, a certified teacher who leads the Community Learning Network, outlined the organization’s program called the “Road to Digital Equity in New Mexico” at the second of a three-part webinar series. The initiative involves a collaborative effort among local funders, community foundations, the state community foundation, philanthropic organizations, and various nonprofits and community agencies to expand high-speed connectivity and digital skills training across the state.

The group created the New Mexico Broadband Collective to raise funds and seek solutions to close the digital divide in rural areas and communities that lack broadband access. It is already implementing digital inclusion activities and will use the funds to support local digital inclusion programs.

Nevarez said that the Information Technology Disaster Resource Center has been instrumental since the beginning of the pandemic, deploying over 190 hotspots in rural areas to ensure residents have internet access for work and school from local sites such as libraries and fire stations. Many of these hotspots are still functioning, providing ongoing support to these communities.

Recently, the center also deployed emergency communication support for the severe fire in the Mescalero Apache region, where nearly 25,000 acres have been burned by the wildfire.

"As the state mobilized to accommodate these opportunities, the state digital equity plan was written to increase digital inclusion activities and support digital equity statewide," Nevarez said, ensuring that the plan identifies the actions needed to make digital equity accessible for all residents.

New Mexico is currently expecting an allocation of approximately $8 million from the New Mexico Digital Equity Capacity Grant, according to Nevarez. This funding is part of the broader efforts under the Digital Equity Act, which was established to promote digital inclusion and equity across the United States.

The state has prioritized the subaward process for that funding, directing it to trusted member organizations and members of working groups who have been meeting for years to collaborate, coordinate, and share best practices.

Popular Tags