Editor’s note: The following is a press release from the City of Bloomington. Bloom has republished it here with edits for style and clarity.

The City of Bloomington has been recognized by the National Digital Inclusion Alliance as a 2021 Digital Inclusion Trailblazer. First launched in 2016, Digital Inclusion Trailblazers is a public inventory of local government initiatives promoting digital literacy and broadband access for underserved residents. The City was commended for its continuing efforts to bridge the digital divide, including conducting a scientific survey on broadband equity, developing a Digital Equity Strategic Plan, and establishing a Digital Equity Grants Fund for nonprofit organizations through Mayor John Hamilton’s Recover Forward initiative to help the community rebound and thrive in the face of concurrent crises. 

“While there’s always more we can do, we’re gratified to be recognized for our efforts to increase digital inclusion in Bloomington,” says Mayor Hamilton. “Among its many lessons, the pandemic confirmed that access to broadband and digital devices are crucial to thrive in our world.  With our strategic plan as a guide, we will continue to identify and seek to bridge the digital gaps that keep folks from participating in education, employment, and a full life.”

Bloomington’s distinction as a Digital Inclusion Trailblazer was determined by its fulfillment of the following criteria:

  • Has a digital inclusion plan (or a plan in development).
  • Has conducted and published survey research on Internet access and use by residents.
  • Directly funds community digital inclusion programming.

In April 2020, the City of Bloomington conducted a Digital Equity survey assessing how residents use internet services.  Sent to a randomized sample of 6,500 Bloomington households, the survey was completed by 1,080 respondents.  The survey’s results, available here, helped to inform the City’s Digital Equity Strategic Plan, released in December 2020.  

Also in December, the City made its first round of Digital Equity Grants to six local nonprofit organizations working to facilitate access to broadband services and computing devices and increase digital literacy.  The Digital Equity Grants program was funded through a $35,000 investment approved by the Bloomington Common Council in August 2020 as part of a $2 million reallocation of 2019 reversion funds, in the first phase of Mayor Hamilton’s Recover Forward strategy. 

Bloomington is the smallest city recognized as a 2021 Digital Inclusion Trailblazer.  The other cities recognized this year are Austin, San Francisco, Boston, Portland, Long Beach, San Antonio, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Louisville, Provo City, Salt Lake City, Detroit, New York City, Kansas City, Baltimore, and Chattanooga.

More information about the City’s activities and investments to promote digital inclusion and equity is available at bloomington.in.gov/digital-equity.