The American Connection Corps: Closing the Digital Divide through National Service

August 7 – 1:30 pm to 2:15 pm

Aspiring young leaders are craving clear pathways to stable, socially impactful careers. Nonprofits and governments in communities nationwide are in dire need of bright and ambitious talent to tackle challenges in the digital economy. There’s never been a better – or more critical – moment to embrace national service as a key solution to close the digital divide.

This session spotlights the American Connection Corps (ACC), a fast-growing civic leadership program that’s bringing exceptional Americans back to the rural and legacy communities that they call home. Participants will grasp how ACC Members build the capacity of backbone community organizations to tackle their distinct digital access and adoption challenges, while charting a new narrative of success that doesn’t mean “leaving, and never coming back”. They’ll learn that improving government in the digital age requires more than just technical talent – it requires a spirit of service, a commitment to place, and a multidisciplinary skill set.

With the IIJA, the federal government has made a landmark investment to connect every corner of the country with the opportunities that the digital age offers. Dollars, though, can only take this unprecedented investment so far. What rural and small city America need even more deeply is capacity – the boots on the ground, the hands on deck – to help bring the full potential of this investment to fruition. Participants will learn how ACC brings this much-needed capacity to nonprofits and local governments nationwide, and how it helps build a new generation of locally-rooted, bridge building civic leaders in the process. Attendees will take away actionable steps to progress on:
1) Pathways to civic-minded, digitally-native careers, particularly in rural and small city areas
2) Innovative forms of workforce development in broadband-adjacent fields
3) Strategies to unify the public, private, and nonprofit sectors in support of talent-focused economic development efforts
4) Tactics to build community across lines of difference



Eric Kotin

Lead For America: Director of Strategic Initiatives

Amber Smyer

University of Idaho Extension: Program Manager, Digital Economy Program

Taylor Stuckert

Lead for America: ACC Executive Director