Colorado Digital Access Plan


Colorado's Digital Access Plan


With the passage of the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, every state is required to develop a Digital Equity State Plan (known as the Digital Access Plan) which explores access to affordable broadband and digital devices as well as digital skill levels and cybersecurity practices for eight covered populations:

  • Low-income households
  • Aging populations
  • Incarcerated individuals
  • Veterans
  • People with disabilities
  • People with language barriers
  • Racial and ethnic minorities
  • Rural inhabitants

Within the plan, each state is required to then define measurable objectives that would address the digital divide for these populations. In November 2022, the Office of the Future of Work received $897,000 in Digital Equity Act planning funds. Since then, the Digital Equity Team heard from over 15,000 Coloradans through surveys and listening sessions, and invested more than half a million dollars into Colorado community organizations and companies to shape Colorado's first Digital Access Plan.

The State of Colorado released its Draft Digital Access Plan for public comment in January 2024. 

Colorado's Digital Access Plan has been approved by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The plan will be used to guide the state's digital inclusion work with $12 million in State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Funds over the next five years.


How to Get Involved

Fill out the Digital Equity Stakeholder Interest Form to join the Digital Equity Stakeholders meetings or and get email updates on Colorado’s digital equity work.

Subscribe to the Digital Download: Digital Equity Monthly Newsletter!

Digital Access Plan Timeline

In November 2022, the Office of the Future of Work received $897,000 in Digital Equity Act planning funds. These funds will be used to create Colorado’s Digital Access Plan. The OFW will work in close collaboration with the Colorado Broadband Office, which also received Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD). Read the press release.

From May through September 2023, the Digital Equity Team collected data, attended outreach events, convened the Digital Equity Committee, and Digital Equity Working Group to create the Digital Access Plan. 

The Digital Access Plan draft was available for public comment from December 15, 2023 through January 19, 2024. The Digital Access Plan wias submitted to the National Telecommunications Information Association (NTIA) in March 2024 for approval.

Colorado's Digital Access Plan has been approved by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. The plan will be used to guide the state's digital inclusion work with $12 million in State Digital Equity Capacity Grant Funds over the next five years.

Data Sources

Summary of Data Sources Used
To develop meaningful strategies to close the digital divide in Colorado, the Digital Equity Team needed to hear from Coloradans themselves. To ensure the voice of Coloradans and the covered populations remained the north star for the Digital Access Plan, the Digital Equity Team employed several data collection efforts, including:

  • The Statewide Digital Equity Survey.
  • The 2023 Colorado Health Access Survey.
  • The Sterling Correctional Facility PRIN Report.
  • Listening sessions with covered populations.

Funding Community Based Organizations
The Digital Equity team funded 22 community-based organizations across the state, chosen based on the covered populations they serve and their reach within the state. These contracts made up 45% of Colorado’s total budget, for a total of almost $400,000. The community-based organizations disseminated the Statewide Digital Equity Survey and conducted listening sessions with their communities. They also gave feedback on digital tools, program models, and other interventions to build digital equity, and they participated in Colorado’s Digital Equity Committee meetings to guide the Digital Equity State Plan's development.

Statewide Digital Equity Survey
This was a statewide survey used to collect baseline data from Coloradans and all the covered populations on digital skills levels, internet use, affordability of internet subscriptions, and more. It was available in 22 languages online and available on paper for those who could not complete an online survey. Community-based organizations the Digital Equity Team contracted with provided space in their buildings and classes for community members to take the survey, gave survey-taking assistance, and provided paper versions for those who needed them.

The survey was open between July and September 2023 and received 5,758 valid responses, achieving an 89% completion rate. In addition to working with community-based partners to disseminate the survey, the Digital Equity Team collaborated with Comcast to air a 30-second public service announcement to all Xfinity cable subscribers and a Spanish version that aired on Telemundo. In addition, the survey was advertised in 15 newspapers serving rural communities ranging from Park County to Sedgwick County.

Ninety percent of survey respondents belong to one or more covered populations. The top languages people responded to the survey were English, Spanish, and Simplified Chinese/Traditional Chinese. All covered populations are overrepresented in the survey data, except for rural residents.  Key findings include:

  • Affordability is the most significant barrier to broadband adoption. 
  • Many Coloradans, disproportionately individuals experiencing homelessness, those with limited English proficiency, and immigrants, have only a smartphone for accessing the internet at home.
  • Coloradans, especially individuals belonging to a covered population group, have a high degree of interest in classes or opportunities to improve digital skills.
  • Many Coloradans are unfamiliar with the cybersecurity measures needed to stay safe online. 
  • More than half of respondents rarely or never use the internet to apply for or use public benefits.

2023 Colorado Health Access Survey
The Digital Equity Team also added six questions relating to digital skills and cybersecurity to the 2023 Colorado Health Access Survey (CHAS). The CHAS is run by the Colorado Health Institute, and more than 10,000 households in the state have participated every other year since 2009. The survey provides a credible source of information about key trends and challenges facing Coloradans that is unavailable through any other source.

The results of the CHAS were analyzed by each of the covered populations. This information was used with data gleaned from the Digital Equity Team’s Statewide Digital Equity Survey and listening sessions to create baseline numbers for each measured objective and covered population. A total of 9,961 respondents completed the Colorado Health Access Survey between March 3, 2023, and September 4, 2023.

The Digital Equity Team plans to leverage the CHAS in future years to measure progress on the measurable objectives rather than rolling out a separate statewide survey effort.

The Sterling Correctional Facility Prison Research and Innovation Network Report
The Digital Equity Team couldn’t survey those within correctional facilities directly due to challenges in finding an Institutional Review Board (IRB). Therefore, survey data from the Colorado Prison Research and Innovation Network (PRIN) research team was leveraged. In Colorado, the PRIN is a voluntary partnership between Sterling Correctional Facility and a University of Denver research team that collaborates to improve outcomes for incarcerated people and correctional staff using data and collective decision-making. Its 2023 report is a culmination of a population-level survey of incarcerated people and more than 120 hours of in-depth interviews. The data was collected between March and October 2021.

Listening Sessions
18 of the 22 community-based organizations funded held listening sessions with covered populations between July and October. This was helpful in capturing authentic thoughts and perspectives from community members that otherwise may have been filtered if someone from the state government had facilitated the listening sessions. Over 430 people participated in 46 listening sessions (37 in-person and nine virtual), representing every covered population in the state's urban and rural areas. Participants were asked about:

  • The impact of the internet on their lives.
  • Where they access the internet.
  • Barriers to access and challenges using the internet.
  • Awareness of online privacy and security. 
How Can Organizations Prepare to Apply for Capacity Funding in 2024?

It is likely that the Digital Equity Team will award capacity funding to communities rather than to individual organizations. Organizations can prepare for future funding by considering:

  • What organization in your community could serve as a fiscal agent?
  • Who has a great space for helping individuals or groups with technology?
  • What businesses employ people from the community, and what digital skills are needed for the jobs there?
  • Where are the best internet connections in the area located?
  • Are there healthcare facilities, workforce centers, schools, libraries, prisons or jails, senior centers, or non-profit organizations that you can bring together to begin conversations around digital equity?
  • What is preventing people in your community from being able to participate in common online activities like email, social media, applying for benefits, job seeking, or telehealth?
  • Which organizations in your community already provide assistance to people who need help completing online tasks?


Digital Equity Meetings


Interested stakeholders are also welcome to participate in Digital Equity Stakeholder Meetings listed on the below calendar. Complete the Digital Equity Stakeholder Interest Form to sign-up and get involved.