North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives Support Digital Inclusion

Pictured (left) is Nelle Hotchkiss, chief operating officer of the North Carolina Association of Electric Cooperatives, presenting the grant award to Leslie Boney (middle) and Maggie Woods at the Institute for Emerging Issues.

This year, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives and CoBank came together to support the launch of a new statewide digital literacy training program at the Institute for Emerging Issues at North Carolina State University.

The $20,000 in grant funds awarded by NCEC and CoBank will support four digital inclusion planning workshops, hosted by IEI’s Building a New Digital Economy in North Carolina (BAND-NC) program. They will create a cohort of North Carolina counties working to build local capacity and share and implement digital inclusion priorities statewide.

“We’re proud to partner with BAND-NC to introduce programming that will increase digital literacy across rural North Carolina, enabling residents with critical new skills to navigate activities such as online learning, telemedicine and employment applications,” said Lark James, senior vice president and chief financial officer of North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives. “We’re grateful to IEI for its focus on this important issue, and for CoBank’s continued generosity in supporting impactful initiatives that contribute to a brighter future for cooperative members and our state.”

As North Carolina works to address the digital divide and bridge the broadband gap, BAND-NC provided mini-grants to communities that want to implement digital inclusion plans or have immediate digital needs. BAND-NC is a part of IEI’s mission to bridge the gap between communities and stakeholders by identifying new ways to educate and engage citizens in North Carolina and by providing knowledge and resources to improve local communities.

“This investment from the N.C. Electric Cooperatives and CoBank helps us take on one of the biggest challenges remaining as we seek to make broadband available in every home – helping those who haven’t had broadband take full advantage of it,” said Leslie Boney, director of IEI. “We need to help those who don’t see the value of broadband or don’t know how to use it get the skills and capacity they need to succeed, whether it is to download homework, work or look for work from home, or get healthcare.”

North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives and CoBank each contributed $10,000 to BAND-NC for digital literacy training. The funding comes through CoBank’s Sharing Success program, which partners annually with electric cooperatives nationwide to match donations to local nonprofit organizations.

“CoBank is proud to partner with North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives through our Sharing Success program,” said Mike Rehmer, CoBank vice president. “Sharing Success allows CoBank to support the causes that are important to our customers, including the BAND-NC program, which will help improve the communities where our customers live and work.”

A national cooperative bank serving vital industries across rural America, CoBank has contributed tens of millions of dollars to important causes nationwide through its Sharing Success matching grant program.

Since 2012, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives and CoBank have contributed $125,000 in Sharing Success grants to programs that make a difference for North Carolina’s rural citizens.