The city applied for this grant back in July 2023, following previous meetings with Mayor Sarno, Councilors Lederman and Fenton, the MBI and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission when the Digital Equity Partnership Program Grant was announced back in April 2023.
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.”
The City Council working group on Digital Equity and Internet Access, which Council President Lederman created at the beginning of the year and is chaired by Councilor Fenton, has been working with Mayor Sarno and the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission to develop a scope for the digital equity plan.
The MBI grant, which is funded through the state’s American Rescue Plan Act allocation, will fund the work and help develop the City’s digital equity plan. As part of the plan, there will be a series of outreach sessions for the public to attend. Three in-person sessions are scheduled for November 13 at the East Forest Park Library, November 29 at the East Springfield Neighborhood Council building, and November 30 at the Mason Square Library, all at 5:45 p.m. The remote meeting will be on December 4, also at 5:45 p.m.