By Denise Linn, Program Analyst at the Smart Chicago Collaborative

The deadline for the Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards has been pushed back to 5pm Wednesday September 30.

On August 6, more than 70 representatives from cities across the country participated in a webinar that outlined the Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards. The awards program—created by National League of Cities and Next Century Cities in partnership with Google Fiber—will recognize new digital inclusion ideas and existing programs that are leading the charge to narrow the digital divide. To give cities more opportunity to finish our easy-to-submit one-page application form and join our network of cities doing digital inclusion work, we’re extending the deadline for applications to Wednesday, September 30.

Cities have more time to fill out their applications for Leader in Digital Inclusion Best Practices or Most Promising New Plan. The winners will be celebrated and invited to share their work at the National League of Cities conference in Nashville, TN this November.

We’re looking for digital inclusion newcomers. Half of our awards are going to cities who are just getting started with their digital inclusion efforts. For example, you don’t need a previous city-run digital inclusion program to apply for the Most Promising New Plan. Instead, we’re looking for fresh new ideas and enthusiasm around narrowing the digital divide. Many metro areas are struggling to bridge their digital divides and, whether or not your city has done this work before, you can be part of the solution.

These applications are short and sweet. All you have to do is fill out a one-page online form, which takes about 20 minutes to complete.

When you submit an application you’ll immediately join a growing network of cities across the country working to address the digital divide. Our goal is to continue to share best practices, case studies and facilitate discussions about how to get residents online.

Each award-winning city will receive two paid flights, hotel rooms and registrations for the National League of Cities annual conference in Nashville, TN from November 4-7.

Here are some ideas, resources and cases for cities interested in submitting an application:

How? Hire a digital inclusion professional on city staff or co-found a collaborative institution.

How? Create a city resolution or city tech plan. Create a marketing or awareness campaign.

How? Partner with a research university to survey residents on Internet adoption/use.

How? Find out who is moving the needle and help them elevate or scale their work. Many cities already have a network of computer centers, AmeriCorps VISTAs, or complementary programs with digital skill components (whether they are ESL, job training, or faith-based).

How? Create a grant/matching program, run workshops for trainers, or directly contribute to or partner with a proven nonprofit.

How? Boost library lending programs (hotspots, mobile devices, etc.) and promote the work of nonprofits repurposing hardware.  

Who’s at the table? The CIO, the library, the schools, the city’s economic development arm, local technology and Internet companies, startups, civic technologists, and nonprofits.

The Digital Inclusion Leadership Awards is run by Next Century Cities and National League of Cities in partnership with Google Fiber. Have questions? Tweet the team @dsocia @dklinn @nextcentcit @leagueofcities @googlefiber or email Deb at deb@nextcenturycities.org.