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The Institute for Emerging Issues announces second round of BAND-NC grant recipients

RALEIGH—The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at NC State University is proud to announce its second round of grant recipients for Building a New Digital Economy in NC (BAND-NC). An additional ten North Carolina counties will each receive a $5,000 grant to help bridge the digital divide in their communities.

BAND-NC is a grant program designed to increase the number of people with the internet in their homes, with the goal of making the state “first in digital inclusion.” The effort is in partnership with the NC Broadband Infrastructure Office (BIO), the John M. Belk Endowment, the Atlantic Telephone Membership Corporation, Roanoke Electric Cooperative, and the North Carolina Electric Cooperatives. Since the last round of funding, the Duke Energy Foundation has also contributed support to the program.

BAND-NC is designed to support $5,000 “rapid response community innovation grants” this summer. A series of workshops led by IEI and BIO to help communities develop “digital inclusion plans” will be held this fall, and another round of $5,000 “implementation” grants will be awarded in 2021.

“The range of challenges communities across our state are facing to get people online is broad, but so is the creativity they are showing in different approaches to addressing them,” said Leslie Boney, IEI Director. “We are grateful for the continued support of investors who are helping us to meet some of these emergency needs now, and we look forward to working with communities throughout the fall to help them develop thoughtful long-term approaches to help more people learn and work online.”

Since the opening of the BAND-NC rolling grant application process, there have been a number of creative initiatives submitted, all aimed at addressing the ongoing challenges surrounding access and digital literacy. The second round of grant recipients includes seven projects in 10 counties (listed below), and more information about each project can be found by visiting the IEI website at

  • Chatham County Council on Aging (Chatham County)
  • Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments (Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash, Northampton and Wilson Counties)
  • NC Cooperative Extension Randolph County Center (Randolph County)
  • Edgecombe County Public Schools (Edgecombe County)
  • Haywood Community College (Haywood County)
  • Beaufort County Schools (Beaufort County)
  • Smoky Mountain TechWorks, Inc. (Swain County)

“Many communities are being left behind because of the digital divide. They need fast, creative solutions to ensure that they have reliable, secure high-speed internet and the devices and skills to access it,”  Acting NCDIT Secretary and State Chief Information Officer Thomas Parrish said. “These projects will help communities address their residents’ immediate needs on a local level and provide much-needed relief during this challenging time.”

Though the BAND-NC grant application is closed, you can learn more about the communities funded and digital inclusion efforts by visiting


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 John M. Belk Endowment
Based in Charlotte, North Carolina, the John M. Belk Endowment is a private family foundation committed to transforming postsecondary educational opportunities to meet North Carolina’s evolving workforce needs. Its mission is aligned with the vision of its founder, the late John M. Belk who served four terms as mayor of Charlotte and was CEO of the department store company Belk, Inc. He created the John M. Belk Endowment in 1995 to fund a national merit scholarship program for his beloved alma mater, Davidson College. Now led by Mr. Belk’s daughter, MC Belk Pilon, the John M. Belk Endowment continues to partner with innovative, results-oriented programs in North Carolina to further Mr. Belk’s values, legacy, and focus on the value of education as a means to personal fulfillment and community vitality. For more information, please visit


About Roanoke Electric Cooperative
Roanoke Electric Cooperative provides service to 14,500 members in Bertie, Hertford, Halifax, Northampton, Gates, Perquimans and Chowan counties. Chartered in 1938 to provide light and power to farms, the co-op today serves as an engine of economic development and provides educational, recreational and community assistance services to enhance the quality of life of its member-owners throughout the diverse communities it serves. Roanoke Electric Cooperative is an equal opportunity provider and employer.


About North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives
Driven by service and inspired by innovation, North Carolina’s Electric Cooperatives are building a brighter energy future for 2.5 million North Carolinians. Beyond providing electricity, each of the 26 not-for-profit cooperatives is investing in their communities and delivering new energy solutions to improve quality of life for co-op members in 93 of North Carolina’s 100 counties.


About NC Broadband Infrastructure Office
NCDIT’s Broadband Infrastructure Office leads the statewide initiatives to expand high-speed internet access, adoption and use for all North Carolinians and serves as a statewide resource for broadband access, first responder communications and state-led classroom connectivity initiatives. In 2019, Gov. Roy Cooper issued Executive Order 91 (EO91), which lays out clear directives to expand broadband across the state through a task force comprised of cabinet agencies, which the office facilitates and supports. In partnership with the Friday Institute, the office is currently conducting a survey to gather better data on broadband availability and quality in the state. To learn more and to take the survey, visit


About ATMC
ATMC is a member-owned cooperative providing a multitude of communications services, including telephone, business services, wireless, broadband internet, cable television, and ATMC Security, in Brunswick County, North Carolina. ATMC provides services in additional areas through its wholly owned subsidiary, ATMC, LLC. ATMC is the largest communications cooperative in North Carolina and one of the largest in the country. For more information on ATMC products and services, visit


About Duke Energy Foundation
The Duke Energy Foundation provides philanthropic support to meet the needs of communities where Duke Energy customers live and work. The Foundation contributes more than $30 million annually in charitable gifts, and is funded by Duke Energy shareholder dollars. More information about the Foundation and its Powerful Communities program can be found at