Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO), an organization of public officials who lead elementary and secondary education departments across the country, invited Next Century Cities to participate in a webinar on incorporating digital equity and inclusion strategies into K-12 restart and recovery plans. The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic put a spotlight on digital learning gaps and persistent barriers to broadband adoption in millions of households nationwide. Students living in poverty; students of color; students with disabilities; and children and youth experiencing homelessness were at a particular disadvantage when attempting to complete their curriculum online. 

Next Century Cities’ Executive Director, Francella Ochillo, joined the June 17th webinar to discuss closing the digital divide and the importance of digital equity. She also shared insights on societal loss when segments of the US population are unable to get online. 

Dr. Nicol Turner-Lee from the Brookings Institution and Joshua Edmonds of the City of Detroit were also featured in the panel discussion. Both discussed specific examples of local connectivity solutions introduced in the wake of COVID-19. Dr. Marty Park followed with a presentation on the Kentucky Department of Education’s strategy to ensure that every public school in the state has digital opportunities.