N.C. State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) has launched BAND-NC, a grant program designed to increase the number of people with Internet in their homes, with the goal of making the state “first in digital inclusion.” North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives contributed $15,000 to the program, and Aulander-based Roanoke Electric Cooperative made a contribution flagged specifically for grants in its service territory.
The effort, in partnership with the NC Broadband Infrastructure Office (BIO), is also supported by investments from the John M. Belk Endowment and Atlantic Telephone Membership Corporation to provide at least $300,000 in grants to communities across the state.
“Just as electric cooperatives were formed in creating a culture around the benefits and use of electricity, the BAND-NC initiative is aimed at empowering communities once they have broadband access to ensure all take full advantage of its capabilities,” said Nelle Hotchkiss, senior vice president and COO for North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives.
BAND-NC will support 30 rapid response community innovation grants ($5,000 each) this summer, a series of workshops led by IEI and BIO to help communities develop digital inclusion plans this fall, and another 30 implementation grants ($5,000 each) in 2021.
“There is a strong need in our communities for more digital education and training for our member-owners,” said Roanoke Electric Cooperative President and CEO Curtis Wynn. “We have some programs in place, but our rural communities need to know more about the education, telehealth, telework and business opportunities available through broadband.”
Learn more about the program at iei.ncsu.edu/band-nc.