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April 2024 IFA Newsletter

This month’s newsletter is 1,645 words. It will take an estimated 6 minutes to read. 

Internet For All Monthly Highlights | IFA Topic Spotlight: PermittingMeet the OICG Team |Grantee Highlights | BroadbandUSA Blog Post
Mark Your CalendarFederal Partner Update

Internet for All Monthly Highlights

State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) is LIVE! 

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced the availability and individual state allocations of $811 million in funding to states, territories, and native entities. The State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program (SDECG) allows States and territories to apply for funding to begin implementation of their previously submitted Digital Equity Plans under the State Digital Equity Planning Grant Program. The overall purpose of the SDECG program is to create the conditions where individuals and communities have the information technology capacity that is needed for full participation in the society and economy of the United States. 

NTIA held a webinar on April 2, 2024 to cover the SDECG program’s Notice of Funding Opportunity and answer live audience questions. Find the recording and presentation on the BroadbandUSA website

More Than 160 Applications Submitted to the Biden-Harris Administration’s “Internet for All” Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program

NTIA announced that it received more than 160 applications in funding requests totaling more than $2.64 billion for the second Notice of Funding Opportunity in the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. This funding will help directly connect Tribal households and businesses to high-speed Internet service, plan for future Internet infrastructure investments, and upgrade network equipment. NTIA has made available approximately $980 million from this second notice of funding.

Read Full Press Release

State Digital Equity Plan Acceptances Continue

As of February 29, 2024, all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico have submitted their Digital Equity (DE) Plans to NTIA. At the time of publishing this newsletter, NTIA accepted 52 Digital Equity Plans, with acceptances continuing on a rolling basis. NTIA’s Director of Digital Equity, Angela Thi Bennett, recently reflected on this historic milestone (linked below): that each state now has a plan to connect communities with the resources they need to achieve digital equity. 

Read Full Blog Post

NTIA on the Road for Internet For All 

Assistant Secretary Alan Davidson and NTIA staff are on the move, crisscrossing the country to share exciting updates and celebrate major milestones of the Internet For All initiative with key stakeholders. Recent highlights from @NTIAgov include:  

IFA Topic Spotlight: Permitting 

Permitting Progress to Support Internet for All 
Since the passage of President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law that provided a historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable and reliable high-speed Internet access to everyone in America, we heard from stakeholders that permitting is a significant concern in implementing the program. NTIA has recently announced several measures to increase predictability in the permitting process and more quickly deploy affordable, reliable high-speed Internet service to everyone in America: 

  • NTIA Environmental and Historic Preservation Approvals. NTIA continues to improve its environmental and historic preservation review processes to maximize efficiency for grantees. This includes National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) streamlining, a new mapping tool for early permitting identification and environmental screening, a BEAD NEPA partnership strategy, and National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) streamlining. 

  • Other Federal Agency Approvals. NTIA has established interagency partnerships, developed and distributed permitting tools, and fostered collaboration to improve federal broadband permitting. This includes Interagency Regional permitting meetings, Heat Map tools, and MOUs and programmatic solutions. 

  • State, Local, and Private Approvals. NTIA is continuing to identify maximum impact measures to leverage influence and support external stakeholders. This includes webinars promoting state DOT permitting, permitting roundtables, and supporting solutions for pole attachments and railroad rights of way.

Read Full Blog Post

Meet the OICG Team

Michell Morton, Acting Deputy Director, Digital Equity Program

This month, we would like to introduce Michell Morton, Acting Deputy Director for the Digital Equity Program (DE).

Michell Morton photo

What is your career background?  
I began my career working as a congressional staffer before switching over to work with the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Neighborhood Networks, collaborating with multifamily and public housing authorities across the country. From there I went to One Economy, a global nonprofit organization that used innovative approaches to deliver the power of technology and information to low-income people. Subsequently, I spent nine years with the DC government, working with the Office of the Chief Technology Officer (OCTO) on their digital equity programs: ConnectDC and Tech Together. I have been in this quickly evolving field ever since. I first joined NTIA in 2021 to support OMBI’s Connecting Minorities and Communities (CMC) grant program. Since 2022, I’ve worked alongside Angie Bennett and the Digital Equity team administering three grant programs across NTIA’s DE portfolio. 

How has internet access made an impact in your own life?
The aspect of meaningful use is particularly important to me.  I went back to graduate school as an adult in my thirties, at a time when virtual education and hybrid schedules became possible. I remember having the ability to work full time and continue my education at the same time. This reminds me of the impact of internet access and the connection between tools and peoples’ daily lives, whether it's through education, employment opportunities, being able to connect with friends and family, or even accessing online grocery stores.  

What is your favorite thing about working at NTIA?
The ability to work on the other side of problem solving is what I cherish the most.  It changes the way that I view this work and the honor to collaborate with so many smart individuals who approach digital equity differently. It is empowering to be able to engage with different states and see the different perspectives they offer, while also providing any thought leadership I can to help them as they go through the challenges of internet access and the digital divide at the local level. 

If you could give your younger self any piece of advice, what would it be?  
Always take risks and opportunities. I still find myself repeating this when I am afraid of change. Opportunity is where luck meets preparation. The best advice I ever received was when I was working for Congressman Elijah Cummings. His Chief of Staff told me, “Make the best of the opportunities that are presented in front of you.” I have never found myself in a situation where I could not learn something new, be around people who inspire me, or gain a new perspective.

Sarah Salgado, Broadband Program Specialist, OICG, and Federal Program Officer, Middle Mile Grant Program 

This month, we’re also introducing OICG’s Sarah Salgado, who serves in dual roles on the Communications and Engagement and Middle Mile teams. Sarah was featured in the Department of Commerce-NITA LinkedIn Page. For her full interview, visit NTIA’s LinkedIn.

Sarah Salgado photo

What is your role?    
I have the pleasure of working across two dynamic teams within NTIA’s Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth. As a Broadband Program Specialist on the Communications and Engagement (C&E) team, I facilitate partnerships with state broadband offices and industry leaders, ensuring they stay informed about NTIA’s Internet for All grant programs and related policy issues. I also serve as a Federal Program Officer for NTIA’s Enabling Middle Mile (MM) Broadband Infrastructure Program, where I support grant projects aimed at constructing and strengthening our nation’s MM infrastructure to enable access to high-speed Internet in unserved and underserved communities.

Grantee Highlights

Internet For All grantees continue to celebrate announcements, groundbreaking events, and program achievements as they progress towards providing infrastructure, skills, and access to communities across America. Recent grantee highlights include:

BroadbandUSA Blog Post

NTIA’s Commitment to State and Territory Local Coordination 
Between August 2022 and November 2023, NTIA co-hosted day-long workshops with 17 different state and territory broadband offices (SBOs). These workshops brought together local area stakeholders and provided an important opportunity to open lines of communication between NTIA and the SBOs needed to make the BEAD and DE programs community-driven successes. The workshops also enabled broadband offices to create avenues for new and existing relationships with their stakeholders as they prepare for future phases of these programs and ensure that these stakeholders were included in the planning process.  

Below are workshop highlights by the numbers: 


Stakeholders Engaged

  • Government building icon in red 39% Government (Federal, State, & Local)
  • Circle of people icon 5% Tribal Corporations/ Communities
  • Three houses red, blue and light blue next to a road in blue 3% Community Development Groups
  • Red heart on the palm of a blue hand 12% Nonprofit Organizations
  • Graduation cap in blue 6% Academic Institutions
  • Industry building icon in light blue 31% Industry
  • Three dots in a row light blue, red and dark blue 4% Other


Technical Assistance resources shared


Federal partners that participated as presenters

  • U.S. Department of the Treasury
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture
  • Federal Communications Commission
  • U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development
  • U.S. Department of the Interior

Read Full Blog Post

Mark Your Calendar

State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Program Upcoming Application Due Dates: 

  • For States, D.C., and Puerto Rico: May 28, 2024  
  • For U.S. Territories: July 31, 2024 
  • For Native Entities: Application window opens on September 25, 2024  
    • Application window closes February 7, 2025 

More Information

Federal Partner Update: ACP is No Longer Accepting Applications

The Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) stopped accepting new applications and enrollments on February 7, 2024. Barring additional funding from Congress, April is expected to be the last month enrolled households will receive the full benefit. For more information about the ACP Wind-Down, please review resources from the Federal Communications Commission below:  

Funding Program