Keystone Internet Coalition Champions Digital Equity for Pennsylvanians

In a post-pandemic American society, reliable internet connectivity is no longer just a luxury—it has become a necessity. With everything from work, to education, to doctor appointments now taking place online, widespread access to the web is essential. However, hundreds of thousands of Pennsylvania residents still lack reliable and affordable internet connectivity, a problem largely caused by poor allocation of government funding over the years. The Keystone Internet Coalition (KIC)—a group of nonprofits, agencies and individuals working to achieve digital equity in Pennsylvania—aims to change that.

Founded in 2022, KIC is led by Jennifer Blatz, who serves as State Coordinator, and Kate Rivera, the Executive Director of the Technology Learning Collaborative. Currently, KIC has more than 50 volunteers, and active participation across 10 Pennsylvania counties. The group is working to ensure that an upcoming $1 billion investment into the state’s digital infrastructure goes toward improving internet access and affordability for the Pennsylvanians who are most in need, including low-income families, veterans, minority groups, rural inhabitants and more.

“The announcement of the BEAD (Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment) and Digital Equity Act funding, and advice from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, primarily, were the impetus for the formation of this statewide endeavor,” Blatz said. “We believe that access to affordable, high-speed internet service is a human right. The state is receiving over $1 billion to address every aspect of the digital divide—infrastructure, affordability, devices, digital skills. This is likely the largest investment our state will ever make in broadband and digital equity, so it’s imperative we get it right.”

According to KIC, past government investments made to expand Pennsylvania’s internet access did not prioritize community input; instead, they relied primarily on Internet Service Providers that used now-outdated technology or failed to fulfill their commitments. This time, KIC is working to ensure that the new investment is used for the good of the public, that allocation of funds is transparent and inclusive of the community, and that policymakers are educated on the factors that impact digital inequality. The coalition has also been advocating for the renewal of the Affordability Connectivity Program, which is improving the affordability of internet services and devices for more than 700,000 households in Pennsylvania. Furthermore, KIC intends to evaluate the output of the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority and monitor the operation and impact of the programs that receive funding. 

“Our work is having a profound impact on the direction of how these vital funds will be spent. We have developed very strong and influential relationships with the PA Broadband Development Authority, our Federal Program officer at the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and many, many more entities,” Blatz said. “This once-in-a-lifetime investment by the federal government will be life-changing for thousands of households across the Commonwealth. Access to high-speed internet service cannot be a privilege any longer. It is imperative for full participation in our society, and in our communities and homes.”

To learn more and support the work of the Keystone Internet Coalition, please click the link: