In partnership with KC Rising and the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, MARC is collaborating with local governments, businesses, civic leaders and community partners to develop the Kansas City Regional Digital Equity Action Strategy. The effort will result in a strategy for broadband and digital equity via short- and long-term investments that achieve the goal of providing all households in the region with high-quality and affordable access to broadband.
The planning effort began in the summer of 2022 and will involve:
- Coordinating work with key community partners.
- Local government outreach.
- Inventory and engagement of community organizations.
- Business and civic engagement.
- Building strategic relationships with state broadband offices.
- Outreach to libraries and educational institutions.
- Identifying areas where Broadband infrastructure projects are needed.
- Review of best practice research and learning about emerging technologies
It will also engage and build on groups that have started work while at the same time increasing capacity throughout the region. Stakeholders will be encouraged to participate via:
- Advisory group meetings.
- Topic-based working groups, such as broadband infrastructure, community engagement, and research and technological innovations.
- Workshops focused on issues, barriers, potential solutions and implementation projects.
Expected outcomes will relate to helping identify investments for federal and philanthropic funds.
Unserved and underserved areas
Analyze broadband infrastructure to identify unserved and underserved areas within the nine-county region consisting of Johnson, Leavenworth, Miami and Wyandotte counties in Kansas, and Cass, Clay, Jackson, Platte and Ray counties in Missouri.
Application funding strategies
Identify infrastructure projects for application to state and federal funding programs and assisting the community in coordinating on possible grant applications.
Digital equity investment strategy
Focus on specific projects to support broadband adoption and meaningful use by area households and small disadvantaged businesses with recommendations for connectivity, devices and training.
Pilot implementation projects to support affordable internet subscription options, device provisions and digital training services with philanthropic funds. (The COVID-19 Fund Advisory Board will provide oversight).
Over the next few years, the federal government will invest billions of dollars to eliminate the digital divide in unserved and underserved areas. Much of the funding will be awarded to the states, which will determine how and where to invest the funds. Organizations on both sides of the Missouri-Kansas state line have worked for years to narrow the digital divide. They have the knowledge, networks and credibility that will make a regional strategy for digital investment possible. KC Rising, the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and MARC will serve the role of conveners and organizers. Rather than make decisions or identify priorities, they will help stakeholders — local governments, business and civic leaders, and community partners — identify possible collaborative investments for the region.