SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – In Springfield, the city has received a $102,025 grant to help residents better understand technology and the internet.

The grant is from the Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program through the Massachusetts Broadband Institute. City Councilor Michael Fenton says this money will help people in Springfield compete and succeed in the workforce with new technology skills and training.

“Through the digital equity plan, it’s our expectation that we would identify the shortcomings, what’s causing the digital divide between communities like Springfield and other urban centers and the suburbs, and then identifying pathways to solutions.”

Fenton said if people are having trouble paying their internet bills they can look into the Affordable Connectivity Program. This is a federal program that provides a discount on internet bills for eligible households.

Mayor Sarno states, “I want to thank City Council President Jesse Lederman, Councilor Attorney Michael Fenton and Kimberly Robinson, Executive Director of the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission for their support and working with my administration to advance our Digital Equity Plan.  Mitigating the inequities within the fast-paced digital economy is a top priority for my administration.  We recognize the tremendous impact that the digital divide continues to have in our community, including basic access to skills, training and essential services, and this grant funding will help to develop our collaborative digital equity plan for the benefit of our residents.  The Municipal Digital Equity Program will provide crucial assistance in Springfield’s efforts to develop sustainable and equitable practices and initiatives around technology use.  These invaluable investments will better the lives for our residents, granting them access to promising opportunities and an enhanced quality of life.”

Jesse Lederman, City Council President said, “The internet has become an essential utility for individuals, families, and businesses, that’s why I appointed the Working Group on Digital Equity Earlier this year. This resulting partnership with the Mass Broadband Institute and Pioneer Valley Planning Commission to complete our Digital Equity Plan will lay the groundwork to ensure that as a city we are taking the right steps to expand internet access and affordability, and put Springfield residents in the driver’s seat when it comes to the infrastructure of the future. I’m thankful to the participating Digital Equity Working Group members and Councilor Fenton, who are shining examples of the good that comes from engaging passionate experts and residents in the work of local government.”

“Being able to deliver a Digital Equity Plan for the City of Springfield will open up opportunities for our City to benefit from extensive federal and state grants which are designed to combat the digital divide.  I want to thank Mayor Sarno for supporting our efforts and signing the grant application and President Lederman for appointing me to chair this committee. I also want to thank each and every member of this volunteer committee for their efforts.  With this grant from MBI, we will have a robust Digital Equity Plan and expect to secure substantial state and federal dollars to combat the digital divide,” said City Councilor Attorney Michael A. Fenton, Chair of the Special Committee on Digital Equity.

“The Pioneer Valley Planning Commission is honored to partner with Mayor Sarno and his administration here in the City of Springfield, as well as with Massachusetts Broadband Institute, to bring about real digital equity to the residents of this great community,” said PVPC Executive Director Kimberly H. Robinson. “The Municipal Digital Equity Planning services we will be providing Springfield will look at both the cold hard quantitative analysis, as well as the equally real human perceptions on digital equity of the people of Springfield. At the end of the day, this work is about opportunity and inclusion for communities ready to embrace all of the 21st century digital resources available.”

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