Digital Divide Response Project Overview

An image of a young mother getting help using a computer with a child on her lap, another child helping her, and a trainer
The Digital Divide Response Project helps Portlanders overcome barriers to getting online. This program is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which is investing in Portland’s recovery – and our future.
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In 2021, the City committed $3.5 million in ARPA funding to continue addressing the community’s digital adoption needs. The Office for Community Technology (OCT) is working closely with priority communities to determine their device and training needs that could be supported through this funding.

Priority Populations

The ARPA Digital Divide Response project prioritizes meeting the critical technology and internet access needs for Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC), seniors, LGBTQIA+, immigrants and refugees, houseless or housing insecure, foster youth, domestic violence survivors, people impacted by incarceration, people with disabilities, and those living in poverty (priority populations) who face barriers to being digitally connected.


2021: City Council committed $3.5 million in ARPA funding to support Digital Divide Response efforts.

March-August 2022: OCT contracted with community-focused consulting group, ASCETA, to engage the community to identify priority needs and design the spending plan for the limited ARPA resources.

August-December 2022: OCT developed funding opportunities to support the community-led spending plan.

December 2022: OCT releases the first phase of funding opportunities: a grant opportunity for community-based nonprofit organizations.

January 2023: The second phase of funding opportunities opens, including a grant that supports community-led efforts to build a neighborhood-based Wi-Fi network.

April 2023: The final phase of the funding opportunity opens: an application process for individuals who aren’t connected to a community-based organization to apply to receive a device and support directly from the City.

How to apply

Phase 1: Tech kit grant opportunity
A grant opportunity open to community-based organizations to apply for up to $250,000 in ARPA resources to purchase devices and accessories, and to build or scale digital skills training programs to support the device recipients. The grant application period is now closed for this opportunity.

Phase 2: Community-managed wireless networks grant opportunity
A grant opportunity open to community-based organizations and local businesses to grow capacity and skills necessary to build and maintain a local community-owned Wi-Fi 6 and fixed wireless network. The grant opportunity is expected to open in early January with applications due mid-March. Applicants selected to receive an ARPA resource award will have up approximately 2-years to implement the project.

Phase 3: City-distributed devices opportunity
Open to low-income individuals who aren’t connected to a community-based organization to apply for a devices and digital skills training support directly from the City. This opportunity is expected to launch in March 2023 and will run until all resources are distributed.

Visit the Digital Divide Response Project website for the most current information on available opportunities and updates.

Funding source

The City of Portland has committed $3.5 million to this program. This money comes from the U.S. government’s 2021 American Rescue Plan local recovery funds. Portland will receive a total of $208 million from the American Rescue Plan and has until Dec. 31, 2026, to spend it. The City of Portland is spending money in three priority categories:

  • Houselessness Response and Household Stabilization
  • Small Business and Commercial District Stabilization
  • Community Health and Safety

Read more about these investments in this article: American Rescue Plan: Investing in Portland

Program management

The Digital Divide Response Project is managed by the Digital Equity Strategic Initiatives Program in collaboration with partnering community-based organizations.


In 2020, with $5 million in CARES Act money, the former Office for Community Technology, in partnership with Smart City PDX and community leaders, created the Digital Divide Tech Kit Project. The goal of the project was to quickly get computers and accessories to Portlanders disproportionately affected by the COVID pandemic and who face significant barriers to getting online.

Who is affected by the digital divide? 32,000 households are not connected. Those not connected have annual household incomes less than $75k. Of those unconnected at least half make less than $20k per year. And at least 16,230 households do not have computer

The “Tech Kit” refers to a “package” that includes a device, assistive technology tools, internet service payment assistance, and some basic digital skills training support. Now people in need can have the elements and support to become a digital adopter with “all-in-one” resources.

Twenty-four community-based organizations were contracted to help identify people in need of support and deliver the Tech Kits. But despite being able to put 3,500 Chromebooks, 547 iPads, and 8,429 Internet Payment Assistance Cards into the community’s hands, the need was far greater than resources available.

Of the 21,152 Chromebook requests; only 3500 Chromebooks available. Of the 5,379 iPad requests, only 547 available. Of the 23,276 internet assistance requests, only 8,429 available.
Graphic: CARES Act Tech Kit Project Data showing requested resources vs. distributed resources.


We want to be transparent and accountable with how the City of Portland is spending American Rescue Plan money. Explore the different projects at our Rescue Plan Open Data website.