For Immediate Release
Contact: Deb Socia, 617-251-8358
deb@nextcenturycities.org

New Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards Announced by Next Century Cities
and National League of Cities in Partnership with Google Fiber

New Awards Will Recognize Successful City Governments and Programs Bridging the Digital Divide

Washington, D.C. (July 30, 2015) – Next Century Cities, a city-to-city collaborative with over 100 members dedicated to ensuring access to fast, affordable, and reliable broadband Internet, today joined with the National League of Cities to announce a new Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards program, created in partnership with Google Fiber. These awards will celebrate city governments who are leading programs or empowering community-based organizations to tackle barriers to Internet adoption.

“If we are to fully realize the potential of high-quality broadband networks, we need to ensure that the benefits of broadband are shared by all,” said Deb Socia, Executive Director of Next Century Cities. “Through the Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards, we hope to celebrate cities that are addressing this need head-on, and encourage others to do the same.”

“Internet access is no longer a luxury; it is a necessary tool for participation in the opportunities of our communities and our economy,” said Ralph Becker, President of the National League of Cities and Mayor of Salt Lake City. “The Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards will recognize the critical work city leaders and their community-based partners are doing to get more residents the digital access and resources they need.”

The Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards will feature two categories. Two winners will be chosen in each category based on the program’s ability to engage the community by providing digital training, Internet access and hardware at a reasonable cost to a diverse range of participants; an additional entrant in each category will be recognized for a uniquely innovative approach to bridging the digital divide. Award categories include:

  • Leader in Digital Inclusion Best Practices: this award will recognize existing programs with over a year of work in addressing the digital divide.
  • Most Promising New Plan: this award will recognize particularly promising new programs for ensuring digital inclusion in a community.

Around 25 percent of US households or approximately 60 million Americans don’t have Internet in their homes. Families affected by the digital divide, many of whom are from lower-income neighborhoods, are at a disadvantage when it comes to doing homework, applying for jobs or staying in touch with loved ones. Whether cities are leading or partnering on programs, city governments have a major role to play in getting residents the digital access and resources they need.

On August 6 at 1:00pm ET, Next Century Cities and the National League of Cities will be hosting a public webinar to share digital inclusion best practices and offer details of the award application process. Information about the webinar and the awards program can be found on the Next Century Cities website at nextcenturycities.org/digital-inclusion-awards/.

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Next Century Cities is a city-to-city initiative founded to support communities and their elected leaders, including mayors and other officials, as they seek to ensure that all have access to fast, affordable, and reliable Internet. As innovative municipalities across the country recognize the importance of leveraging gigabit level Internet to attract new businesses and create jobs, improve health care and education, and connect residents to new opportunities, Next Century Cities will celebrate these successes, demonstrate their value, and help other cities to realize the full power of truly high-speed, affordable, and accessible broadband. For more information, visit www.nextcenturycities.org.