RALEIGH, NC —The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at NC State University is excited to announce its next round of grant recipients for Building a New Digital Economy in NC (BAND-NC). Thirty-two North Carolina county-level initiatives will each receive a $5,000 grant to help bridge the digital divide in their communities.
“COVID-19 has shown us how important digital inclusion is to meet each community’s education, economic development, and health care needs,” said IEI director Leslie Boney. “These grants enable local folks to address the highest needs in their particular community and set the stage for the deeper work needed to solve these challenges in the long term.”
BAND-NC has supported to date 61 $5,000 “rapid response” and “digital inclusion planning and implementation” grants covering 62 counties since the program’s inception. Working closely with the NC Broadband Infrastructure Office (BIO) and with additional funding from the CARES Act, investments from Atlantic Telephone Membership Corporation, Corning, Duke Energy Foundation, Google Fiber, Hillsdale Fund, John M. Belk Endowment, NC Electric Cooperatives, PNC Foundation, and the Roanoke Electric Cooperative, BAND-NC has contributed $641,050 to support counties working to close the digital divide.
“Broadband is the critical infrastructure of the 21st century, but digital inclusion demands that we do more than make sure North Carolinians have broadband. They must be able to afford it and have the tools and know-how to get the most out of it,” said Jim Weaver, NCDIT Secretary and State Chief Information Officer. “BAND-NC is a crucial partnership in the public, private and nonprofit work to achieve digital inclusion in North Carolina. These new BAND-NC grantees will do immediate, practical work to get people connected and working and learning remotely in the communities they know how best to serve.”
There’s never been a more important time than the past 16 months to have broadband in your home. Students have needed it to learn; employees have needed it to work—and look for work—successfully; seniors have needed it to get health care safely. Broadband has become an essential tool for success and a critical instrument of equity. Through the BAND-NC program and bipartisan leadership, the Institute for Emerging Issues is working to ensure digital equity and inclusion is a part of the larger broadband access conversation. Digital equity and inclusion are vital to building a new digital economy for our state.
“Our goal is to help all counties in North Carolina develop sustainable strategies for achieving digital equity. We’ve made a lot of progress in a short period of time, but we still have a long way to go,” says Maggie Woods, BAND-NC Program Director. “We look forward to launching more regional approaches with individualized support over the next year, as well as continuing our innovative digital inclusion planning workshops and BAND-NC grant program.”
About Institute for Emerging Issues
The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at North Carolina State University is a nonpartisan public policy organization focused on the state’s vibrancy and economic competitiveness. Since 1986, the Emerging Issues Forum has attracted leaders in business, education and public policy to discuss issues with profound implications for North Carolina’s future prosperity. For more than three decades, the Forum has helped catalyze the policy reforms, public investments and other proactive responses required to build an enduring capacity for progress in North Carolina.
About NC Broadband Infrastructure Office
The North Carolina Department of Information Technology’s Broadband Infrastructure Office leads the statewide initiatives to expand high-speed internet access, adoption, and use for all North Carolinians.
The Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State (IEI) in partnership with the Broadband Infrastructure Office at the NC Department of Information Technology, and with principal support from the John M. Belk Endowment, is addressing the digital divide across NC through a program called “Building a New Digital Economy” (BAND-NC). BAND-NC provides mini-grants to communities across the state who want to implement digital inclusion plans, begin a digital inclusion planning process, or who are looking to meet immediate digital needs.