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Dogwood Health Trust pledges $2 million to support the Institute for Emerging Issues’ effort to increase digital literacy and access across North Carolina.

RALEIGH—The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at NC State University today announced it has been awarded a $2 million grant from the Dogwood Health Trust in support of the Building a New Digital Economy in NC (BAND-NC) program. The grant will support community-based efforts to increase the number of people with the internet in their homes in North Carolina’s 18 westernmost counties and the Qualla Boundary. The project will position western NC as a national leader in digital inclusion and will move BAND-NC closer to its goal of making North Carolina the first state in the nation where every county has a digital inclusion plan in place.

“Ensuring that communities across the state have proper access to broadband and have a deeper understanding of the benefits of adopting digital technologies are essential components of our economic vitality,” said Chancellor Randy Woodson. “The work that the Institute for Emerging Issues is doing and the generosity of the Dogwood Health Trust will continue to connect our state and its people to ideas and solutions for digital equity.”

Working closely with the NC Division of Broadband and Digital Equity, BAND-NC provides mini-grants to communities across the state that are implementing digital inclusion plans, beginning a digital inclusion planning process, or are looking to meet immediate digital needs. BAND-NC has supported 61 $5,000 “rapid response” and “digital inclusion planning and implementation” grants covering 62 counties since the program’s inception and has helped develop digital inclusion plans in 18 North Carolina counties.

The new project will focus on development of formal, sustainable digital inclusion plans. IEI will work closely with regional councils of government to help lead development of community-level plans to increase broadband adoption rates among all citizens, then provide counties startup funding to begin implementing the plans.

“This grant is a terrific opportunity for western North Carolina communities to lead the way nationally in digital inclusion,” said IEI director Leslie Boney. “Research shows that greater adoption of broadband in homes leads to better health outcomes, stronger economic development and better educational opportunity.”

“Broadband access is a key factor for achieving a fulfilled and healthy life, and is critical if we are to realize our vision of creating a Western North Carolina where every generation can live, learn, earn and thrive – with no exceptions,” said Dr. Susan Mims, interim CEO of Dogwood Health Trust. “Programs like BAND-NC help our neighbors and communities overcome the connectivity hurdles presented by geography or poverty to ensure that everyone has equitable access to this vital service. We look forward to seeing the digital inclusion plans that our communities develop to help their residents take advantage of the opportunities broadband connections provide.”   

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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 Dogwood Health Trust
Dogwood Health Trust is a private foundation based in Asheville, North Carolina with the sole purpose of dramatically improving the health and wellbeing of all people and communities of 18 counties and the Qualla Boundary in Western North Carolina. Dogwood Health Trust focuses on innovative and equitable ways to address the many factors that contribute to overall health and wellbeing. With a focus on housing, education, economic opportunity and health and wellness, Dogwood Health Trust works to create a Western North Carolina where every generation can live, learn, earn and thrive, with dignity and opportunity for all, no exceptions. To learn more, please visit