Professional Development
Digital access

Andy Stutzman is tackling digital equity at the national level

Stutzman recently became the new executive director of the national-facing Next Century Cities. Here's how he views his digital equity work at Drexel University over the last decade.

Andy Stutzman. (Courtesy Andy Stutzman)
Update: Comment from Kate Rivera has been added. (10/3/23, 3 p.m.)
One of Philly’s digital equity leaders has left the dragon’s nest and is taking on digital equity work at the national level.

Trenton area-based Andy Stutzman, previously project director at Drexel University and director of operations at Drexel’s ExCITe Center, is the new executive director of Next Century Cities (NCC).

The national organization is focused on connecting its member organizations and municipalities with the mission of affordable broadband adoption and digital equity and inclusion for everyone. NCC also aims to lift up local leaders in the digital equity space, Stutzman told Technical.ly.

Stutzman himself was previously one of those local leaders the org has supported. He attended the Pew Charitable Trust Broadband Summit in Cleveland last summer thanks to funding from NCC, for one. The ExCITe Center also hosted a leadership summit in January in collaboration with the local digital equity nonprofit Technology Learning Collaborative and NCC.

Stutzman spent more than 11 years at Drexel, first working on a project funded by the Obama administration’s Broadband Technology Opportunity Program (BTOP), which provided grants to cities to increase digital inclusion and equity.

The funding from this program was used to set up computer labs called Keyspots around Philadelphia; Stutzman worked on setting up a public computer lab at Drexel. After that, he worked on the workforce development initiative Digital On-Ramps.

“Working with the BTOP program and the Keyspot program allowed me to work with multiple different organizations across the city,” Stutzman said. “Working on the Digital On-Ramps program, I was able to get a MacArthur Foundation grant to work on digital badging, working with the folks around the country doing similar things and we’re helping create that network and create those resources.”

All these projects and his work as co-chair of TLC, eventually led him to working on the city’s digital navigators program, which offers free tech support to Philadelphians.

“I would say my work in the last several years at Drexel has been eclectic. It wasn’t just the digital navigator, digital equity work,” Stutzman said. He also worked with the ExCITe Center, a learning and technology center at Drexel, as well as university research labs and youth programming. “Finding this new position with Next Century Cities is something I’ve been looking for to help me to find what my career actually was.”

TLC Executive Director Kate Rivera has been Stutzman’s professional peer for years.

“Andy has been dedicated to growing and supporting Philadelphia’s digital equity community for over a decade,” she told Technical.ly. “Without his leadership, TLC would not be as successful as it is today. I’m so excited to see Andy bring his deep expertise and friendly supportive perspective to a national stage with Next Century Cities!”

During his time at Drexel, Stutzman said he gained experience building networks of organizations, communicating with them and telling their stories. He expects to use all of those skills in his role at NCC.

Currently, NCC is advocating for the federal Affordable Connectivity Program funds to be renewed and working on equitable funding strategies for BEAD funds, which is one of the federal government’s digital equity funding programs, he said.

NCC has worked with the Pennsylvania Statewide Digital Equity Coalition and helped its leaders connect to the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, the state organization that is handling digital equity funding for Pennsylvania.

While Stutzman is now working at the national level, he plans to remain engaged with the digital equity community in Philly. He said he’s working with the City of Philadelphia to become a member of NCC, for instance.

“Philadelphia makes it easy,” Stutzman said. “They’re one of the most digitally inclusive cities out there as far as the government is [involved], that we’ve seen.” (Check out the City’s five-year digital equity plan.)

And while Stutzman plans to travel a lot in this new position, he expects to come into Philadelphia regularly. He even signed up for an Indy Hall membership to stay connected.

Sarah Huffman is a 2022-2024 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Lenfest Institute for Journalism.
Companies: Technology Learning Collaborative / Drexel University / ExCITe Center
Series: Power Moves

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