The complete ARPA guidelines from the New York State Library can be found here.
Digital Inclusion Initiative Component
For the purposes of these ARPA Guidelines, the Digital Inclusion Initiative Component refers to the activities necessary to ensure that all individuals and communities, including the most disadvantaged, have access to and use of Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs). This includes five (5) elements: 1) affordable, robust broadband internet service; 2) internet-enabled devices that meet the needs of the user; 3) access to digital literacy training; 4) quality technical support; and 5) applications and online content designed to enable and encourage self-sufficiency, participation, and collaboration.
Plans should address at minimum three of the five areas above.
Plans will support digital inclusion efforts to enable libraries to reach residents in support of education, health, and workforce development needs.
Plans must document planned efforts to reach underserved populations. This may include areas with high poverty, communities with limited internet access (either because of limited availability or limited adoption), households without devices or internet access. It may also include:
- historically marginalized and systemically oppressed communities,
- people for whom English is a new language,
- immigrants and refugees,
- SNAP recipients,
- people with disabilities,
- housing insecure or homeless individuals,
- formerly or currently incarcerated individuals,
- the unemployed or underemployed,
- individuals with mental health issues or learning disabilities,
- older adults (65+),
- LGBTQIA+ people, and/or
- other underserved populations.
Data must be used to inform these efforts. Data resources on the State Library’s website include Achieving Digital Equity in New York: An Outline for Collaborative Change and New York's Digital Divide: Examining adoption of internet and computers for the state and its library districts. The State Library will also be providing a Digital Equity Data Map which may serve as an additional resource.
All plans must include a component that will 1) educate library staff about digital inclusion and how and why libraries can provide digital inclusion services that meet community needs and 2)
train library staff in how to develop relationships with community partners to address digital inequities. The State Library, in collaboration with the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, will provide virtual training opportunities, resources and expert technical assistance for participating library leaders, staff, volunteers and community leaders.
Plans may include sub awards from the regional library council to public library systems or regional library council-level projects or a combination of the two.
Sub Awards to Public Library Systems
Regional library councils may sub award Digital Inclusion Initiative Project funds to the public library systems in their region. Funds may be sub awarded on a competitive basis and/or by a formula as predetermined by the 3Rs. Inclusion of community partners is strongly encouraged. Collaborative projects to address local and/or regional needs are encouraged. Each lead public library system applicant is required to submit a project application, signed assurances and a final report to the 3Rs to receive these federal funds. Public library systems may in turn sub award funds to member public libraries. Each public library applicant is required to submit a project application, signed assurances and a final report to the public library system to receive these federal funds.
Regional Library Council-Level Project(s)
The 3Rs may elect to serve as the eligible lead library system for one or more regional library council-level Digital Inclusion Initiative Projects after consultation with the public library systems in the region. Such regional library council-level projects that are led by the 3Rs must include at least one public library system as a project partner. Inclusion of additional project partners, including community partners, is encouraged. Collaborative projects to address regional or statewide needs are encouraged. The 3Rs may not sub award funds to other entities for a regional library council-level project, although the 3Rs may purchase products and services from other entities. All products and services must be directly procured by the 3Rs.
Selected Examples of Possible Project Ideas
Internet service: Could include but is not limited to sign-up support for subsidized and low-cost internet service, hotspot loan programs, WiFi access points, and vehicles equipped with roaming WiFi.
Devices: Could include tablets, laptop loan or ownership programs and telehealth equipment in private library spaces. Projects may provide devices at no cost to library patrons for them to own.
Digital literacy training: Could include the employment of library staff and/or volunteers to provide digital literacy training for the public; to serve as digital navigators; or to provide telehealth services. Digital literacy training services may also be purchased from community partners or other organizations.
Quality technical support: Could include the employment of or training of library staff and/or volunteers to assist with the configuration of devices; assist with sign up for federal broadband subsidies; creation of a digital navigator corps to assist patrons with connectivity, digital literacy and devices, at the library, at community locations, virtually or at home. Quality technical support services may also be purchased from community partners or other organizations.
Applications and online content: Could include development of WCAG-ADA compliant websites or other accessibility solutions for disability justice; or the development of online resources for people who speak languages other than English.
Other considerations: Could create, strengthen, and expand digital inclusion coalitions at regional levels; or complement what others are doing.