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Digital Opportunities to Connect Kansans

Digital opportunity is critical for civic and cultural participation, employment, lifelong learning, and access to essential services. As access to affordable broadband becomes a reality through various state and federal programs, the necessary digital literacy and skill sets need to be enhanced to ensure Kansans can fully utilize the soon-to-be enabled affordable broadband internet access. 

Digital Opportunities to Connect Kansans (DOCK) - Image of four diverse young adults looking at a computer screen.

Digital Opportunities to Connect Kansans (DOCK) Program to enhance digital literacy and digital skill sets for Kansans.  A total of $4.75 million will be awarded to applications that best advance digital skills within Kansas.  The DOCK program will enable Kansans to obtain the digital literacy and associated skills necessary to live, learn, work, play and compete equitably in a technology-driven society.  

“It’s not enough to expand high-speed internet across Kansas – we must also show Kansans of all ages and backgrounds how to make the internet a useful tool in their everyday lives. These funds will provide the devices and skills training to help every Kansan benefit from our investments to make high-speed internet available in their local communities.”   

Governor Laura Kelly

Program Overview

Executive Summary

Digital Opportunities to Connect Kansans (DOCK)

The Kansas Office of Broadband Development (KOBD) under the Kansas Department of Commerce was established to help ensure all Kansans have the opportunity to live, work, play, learn and compete in a global economy by improving universal access to quality, reliable and affordable broadband.  Complementing the efforts surrounding improving universal access to all Kansans, the KOBD recently published the Kansas Digital Equity (DE) Plan that supports Kansans and associated communities in developing the technology capacity needed for full participation in our society and economy.  In order to achieve the vision and goals for digital equity, key measurable objectives were established to guide KOBD’s efforts to close the digital equity gap in Kansas. These include: 

  • Improved availability of broadband across Kansas
  • Increased access to and adoption of affordable broadband service
  • Focusing on the growth of digital skills, education, and knowledge
  • Increased awareness of and proficiency in dealing with online privacy and cyber security issues
  • Expanding access to affordable devices with accommodating technical support
  • Promoting the online accessibility and inclusivity of public resources and services

The Digital Opportunities to Connect Kansans (DOCK) program aims to elevate digital literacy and skills training in Kansas, prioritizing covered populations in economically distressed areas. With a total funding of $4.75 million, individual awards may reach $250,000. Successful applications will require a 5% minimum match. The initiative spans from January 19, 2024, to October 15, 2026, and is funded by the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds

UPDATE: Monday, February 12, 2024

Project administrative costs directly benefiting the project are allowed.  Indirect administrative costs (personnel & operating) are not allowed.  This is updated guidance from the Recovery Office.

Please see the updated slide deck (15) and the program guidance for further clarification.

Program Summary

The objective of the Digital Opportunities to Connect Kansans (DOCK) program administered through the KOBD is to enhance digital literacy and skills training in Kansas.  DOCK applications will be accepted with priority given to applications that serve the covered population in economically distressed areas.  Applicants are expected to engage community leaders and stakeholders in the development of projects that will benefit Kansas citizens and communities.  Key information for the program is as follows:

  • Total program funding available: Up to $4.75 million in grant awards
  • Maximum individual award:  $250,000
  • Required applicant match: 5%
  • Solicitation date: January 17, 2024
  • Application window:  Six (6) weeks
  • Potential award date:  After June 28, 2024 
Grant Timelines

DOCK Program Timeline

  • January 17, 2024: Grant Webinar, Application Window Opens (6 weeks)
  • February 28, 2024: Application Window Closes (5pm CST)
  • March 7, 2024: Public Comment Window Opens (2 weeks)
  • March 21, 2024: Public Comment Window Closes (5pm CST)
  • March 29, 2024: Applicant Response to Public Comment Window Opens (2 weeks)
  • April 11, 2024: Applicant Response to Public Comment Window Closes
  • May 17, 2024: Applicant Interviews and Final Applicant Deliberations (5 weeks)
  • June 28, 2024: Kansas Leadership Review
Entities Eligible to Apply

Applicants must have a demonstrated history in the planning and delivery of digital literacy and skills development training capabilities at no charge to targeted populations.  Required capabilities include but are not limited to: skills assessment and training, curriculum development, and content creation and delivery and monitoring program outcomes.

Eligible Applicants Include:

  • Non-profit organizations
  • Political subdivisions or entities of political subdivisions
  • Counties
  • Municipalities
  • For-profit businesses and organizations, including broadband service providers.
  • Tribal Governments
  • Libraries
  • School districts
  • Museums
  • Higher education institutions
  • Co-operatives
  • Electric Utilities
  • The applicant must be an established organization that has been operating for a minimum of three (3) years in the State of Kansas.
Key Definitions

Adoption Efforts
Adoption goes beyond access to high-speed internet and speaks to the ability of individuals and communities to harness access for quality-of-life implications. These efforts may include digital literacy training, low-income assistance programs (for equipment and/or broadband service), partnerships with co-working or entrepreneurship organizations, awareness or marketing campaigns, service provision to community anchor institutions and/or additional programing, along with other programs designed to meet the needs of the local community.

Applicant Match
At the time of application submission, the applicant must demonstrate available cash reserves in an account(s) of the applicant equal to at least the required amount specified in the sliding scale match table. Matching funds must be used solely for the Project and shall not include any financial assistance from federal sources unless there is a federal statutory exception specifically authorizing the federal financial assistance to be considered as such. An applicant must provide evidence of its ability to comply with this requirement in its application (www.ecfr.gov).

Broadband
Broadband (or high-speed internet) access allows users to access the internet and internet-related services at significantly higher speeds than those available through “dial-up” services. Broadband speeds vary significantly depending on the technology and level of service ordered. For additional information, visit the source of this information: Getting Broadband Q&A | Federal Communications Commission (fcc.gov).

Budget and Financial Requirements
Includes an explanation of costs that correspond with the information included in the project budget spreadsheet. The information should also explain the necessity and basis for costs and reflects only allowable costs consistent with project scope. Content must include the last (2) years of organizations tax returns and / or 990s.

Co-Investment
Any funds provided by sources other than the applicant such as local, county, and eligible state programs or other contributors.

Community Anchor Institution
Community anchor institution means schools, libraries, medical and healthcare providers, public safety entities, community colleges and other institutions of higher education, and other community support organizations and agencies that provide outreach, access, equipment, and support services to facilitate greater use of broadband service by vulnerable populations, including low-income, unemployed, and the aged (www.usac.org).

Community Support (Narrative)
Community partners associated with the project planning, promotion, adoption – description of each party’s commitment and role in the project. Include any involvement by Community Anchor Institutions (CAIs) including municipalities, chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, educational institutions, healthcare organizations, libraries, public safety, businesses, non-profits, and or other community stakeholders.

Covered Population
Covered populations include aging individuals, incarcerated individuals, other than individuals who are incarcerated in a Federal correctional facility; veterans; individuals with disabilities; individuals with a language barrier, including individuals who (i) are English learners; and (ii) have low levels of literacy; individuals who are members of a racial or ethnic minority group; and individuals who primarily reside in a rural area.

Digital Equity
A condition in which all individuals and communities have the information technology capacity needed for full participation in our society, democracy, and economy.

Digital Literacy
The ability to leverage current technologies, such as smartphones and laptops, and Internet access to perform research, create content and interact with the world.

Digital Navigator
Trusted guides who assist community members in internet adoption and the use of computing devices. Digital navigation services include ongoing assistance with affordable internet access, device acquisition, technical skills, and application support.

Digital Skills
Any skills related to operating digital devices (mobile phone, tablet, laptop computer, desktop computer, etc.) or taking advantage of digital resources.

Economically Distressed Community
KOBD will consider an area economically distressed if either the 2022 per capita BEA PCPI or PCMI metric is below the 80% threshold. The Kansas counties meeting this definition are in the table below:

Table 9: Economically Distressed Counties in Kansas

AllenEllsworthLincolnRiley
AndersonFinneyLinnRooks
AtchisonFordLyonRussell
BartonFranklinMarionScott
BourbonGearyMarshallSeward
BrownGrahamMitchellSmith
ChaseGrantMontgomeryStafford
ChautauquaGreenwoodMorrisStevens
CherokeeHamiltonMortonSumner
ClayHarperNeoshoWashington
CloudHarveyNortonWichita
CowleyJacksonOsageWilson
CrawfordJewellOttawaWoodson
DickinsonKearnyPawneeWyandotte
DoniphanKiowaReno 
EdwardsLabetteRepublic 
ElkLeavenworthRice 

The counties listed above can also be found at the Stats America website via http://www.statsameri-ca.org/distress/distress.aspx.

KBOR
Kansas Board of Regents.

Letters of Commitment / Support
Explicit commitments and roles of committed partners and letters of support as indicated above. 

Partnership
A formal relationship between two or more parties that enter into an agreement for the sake of advancing broadband enablement.

Project
An applicant’s proposal.

Project Justification
Narrative to justify the need for this project and relevant data indicators to support the effort.  Narrative must include: 

  • Evidence to make a compelling case for the project relative to the proposed services (and covered populations
  • Description of how project addresses critical need(s) of communities to be served

Project Milestones
Project plan that includes information on each stage of the project, covers the entire project period, and aligns to the proposed budget.

Project Plan
Includes executive summary, narrative overview, goals, proposed target critical need communities, partners, stakeholders, intended impact, digital literacy training, short and long-term benefit to the covered populations within communities.

Required Applicant Match
The percentage of funds required by the applicant for the program.

Scalability
The capacity to change the size or scale of the program to achieve substantially higher impact with minimal to no investment.

Service Partners
Letters of commitment/support from partners, or sub-contractors associated with project deliverables. 

Veterans
A person who served in the active military, naval, air, or space service, and who was discharged or released therefrom under conditions other than dishonorable.

FAQ

Question:  Please clarify the project period end date. The webinar and Program Plan (page 6) indicates October 15, 2026, but the website executive summary indicates September 30, 2026.

Answer:  The project period end date is October 15, 2026.  The executive summary has been updated to reflect the correct project period end date.

Question:  Page 12 of the Program Plan indicates under “project budget and bill of materials,” applicants must complete and submit a budget using the provided budget template on the website.  This template is not currently on the website (1.19.24).

Answer:  The project budget and bill of materials template is posted on the DOCK program website as of 2/15/24.

Question:  Page 6 of the Program Plan indicates under “eligible costs, bullet #7” program support costs not to exceed 10% of the total subrecipient award.  Is the applicant considered the “subrecipient,” or does this refer to a subrecipient of the applicant? 

Answer:  The applicant is considered the sub-recipient in the DOCK program.

Question:  As an interlocal, classified as a school district in Kansas, we are not required to file with the Secretary of State.  What documentation would you require in order to meet the attestation that “the applicant is in good financial standing with the State of Kansas” (page 13 of the Program Plan)?

Answer:  As a state funded entity, a school district is, by default, in good financial standing with the State of Kansas.  No documentation is required to support that specific attestation for a school district.

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CONTACT

Jade Piros de Carvalho, Director of the Office of Broadband Development

[email protected]

CONTACT

Kimberlyn Jones, Digital Opportunity Program Manager

785-289-3345

[email protected]

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