The National League of Cities’ Congressional City Conference would ordinarily draw thousands and city officials and staffers to Washington, DC, for keynote addresses, workshops, and networking events followed by a Hill day for local officials to meet with Members of Congress to advocate for their cities, towns, and villages. This year, the virtual conference included headliners such as the Vice President, members of Congress, federal agency officials, and other thought leaders.

Next Century Cities’ Executive Director, Francella Ochillo, participated in a March 8th panel discussion, Finding Federal Funding for Digital Equity in Your Community, alongside the National Digital Inclusion Alliance’s Angela Siefer, and U.S. Department of Education’s Sara Trettin. Susan Norton, Chief of Staff for the City of Fayetteville, Arkansas, moderated the discussion with approximately 80 local leaders.

Panelists highlighted funding and resources that communities can tap into to support broadband expansion projects and digital equity. Francella discussed how the federal emergency broadband benefit will help low-income residents, and the importance of local officials participating in federal and state policymaking proceedings. During the Q&A, she explained how local officials can advocate for better broadband data collections and emphasized the cost of inaction on closing the digital divide.