Better broadband connectivity can transform a community—both rural and urban. It can help broaden the tax base by giving local businesses access to a global market and introduce new jobs through remote work opportunities.
It provides a way for children to connect with educational resources or, often times, simply complete their homework. It gives homebound individuals or senior citizens a way to connect more often with their loved ones. It can even make healthcare less expensive by allowing doctors to “see” their patients through a good internet connection.
How connected is your community?
That’s an important question with no simple answer. It’s why Connected Nation (CN) developed the Connected Community Engagement Program (ConnectedSM). We provide resources so communities can assess their challenges to broadband access, adoption, and use.
The information gathered is then used to develop a community-specific and solution-oriented Technology Action Plan (TAP). Using that plan, both urban and rural communities are able to better leverage their current resources, make smarter infrastructure investments, and identify ways to engage vulnerable populations—including senior citizens, school-aged children, and individuals in low-income areas—to improve their lives through technology solutions.
Here’s how they did it.
Communities across the country (130+) have or are currently taking advantage of this program, and they’re doing so through a wide variety of funding channels— foundations, federal programs, and grants, both large and small.
The Northwest Commission in Pennsylvania decided to do something to connect its rural communities. The group applied for and received a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to study the broadband landscape.
The eight-county project is now our largest, single Connected Engagement to date and will soon be wrapping up.
“Comprehensive Broadband connectivity is as vital to our region’s economic success as roads and infrastructure were fifty years ago. This study will provide the Northwest Pennsylvania region with an understanding of our communications assets as well as its gaps,” said Jill Foys, Executive Director of the Northwest Commission.
CN has also used available federal grants to help address needs in the nation’s most depressed regions—such as South Carolina’s Promise Zone. We are now working there through a USDA grant. The USDA has a number of different broadband-oriented grants available, including the Community Connect Grant or Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) Grant programs.
The U.S. Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration also offers programs that can help support infrastructure development or planning activities related to broadband through the Public Works and Economic Adjustment Assistance Programs or Planning and Local Technical Assistance Programs. More details on these and other grants can be found at www.grants.gov.
Also, feel free to contact us on pointers for meeting match requirements.
Meanwhile, other communities are focusing on foundations to fund their community efforts. To secure funding within this framework it’s best to focus on the mission of a foundation and look for ways for it to connect to what you are trying to do within your own community.
So, what now?
The important thing to remember is to not start building infrastructure or spending money on broadband buildout until you really know where it’s needed and have a plan. We can help you understand where your community stands when it comes to broadband access, adoption, and use. We can also help you identify funding opportunities to develop a community-specific Technology Action Plan.
We believe that everyone belongs in a Connected Nation, and to live out that mission we know that we must all work together to finally and forever close the Digital Divide in our country.
Let us help you get your community on the right side of that gap. For more on how we can help, head to www.connectmycommunity.org or e-mail Chris Pedersen at firstname.lastname@example.org or Eric Frederick at email@example.com.
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