A grant program designed to help communities implement digital inclusion projects in their county.
Thank you all for your interest in BAND-NC. As North Carolinians find themselves relying on broadband and becoming more digitally connected right now, IEI wants to help ensure communities are reacting and planning for an ever-more-certain digital future. BAND-NC is currently evolving to meet community’s specific needs in the wake of COVID-19. Stay tuned and again thank you for your interest in our grant program designed to help communities implement digital inclusion projects.
What is BAND-NC?
BAND-NC (Building a New Digital Economy in NC) is a grant program designed to help communities implement digital inclusion projects in their county. The goal is to make North Carolina the first state in the nation where every county has a digital inclusion plan, a well-developed set of strategies to help all residents understand how to utilize broadband. In partnership with the Broadband Infrastructure Office at the North Carolina Department of Information Technology, the Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at NC State will administer $5,000 grants to counties to implement a local project.
Why Digital Inclusion?
Despite North Carolina’s considerable progress in making broadband available to everyone in the state, many people are not taking advantage of the power of the technology to improve their lives. Statewide, just 59.4% of people subscribe to services. Adoption rates are lower in rural areas than urban areas and are lower among lower-income households in all counties than among higher-income households. If you don’t have access to broadband, can’t afford it, don’t have a device to take advantage of it, or don’t know how to take advantage of it, your opportunities are limited. In contrast, broadband in the home can bridge homework gaps, permit telework and telehealth, and aid in one’s job search or online education, in addition to many other uses.
Digital inclusion focuses on adoption rates and is essential to ensuring that North Carolinians can afford the technologies and know-how to take full advantage of them. BAND-NC encourages communities across the state to create digital inclusion plans and strategies. These plans have three key elements:
1) strategies to ensure that robust broadband internet service is affordable
2) ideas for getting internet-enabled devices (computers, laptops, etc.) to users that meet their needs
3) approaches to delivering digital literacy training and technical support
Building a digital inclusion plan allows local government and community groups to coalesce around specific goals to decrease barriers to access and increase technology use.
Timeline and Process
Updates coming soon!
Nonprofits and/or government institutions are eligible to apply for a BAND-NC grant. All applicants should apply on behalf of a county (or a group of counties). Applicants must attach their county’s digital inclusion plan, though the application will be focused on a specific project. Regional workshops will help counties develop digital inclusion plans ahead of the application deadline.