Institute for Emerging Issues Receives $250,000 to Continue Digital Inclusion Efforts in Rural NC Communities
The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at NC State University has received a $250,000 grant from the John M. Belk Endowment to support the institute’s Building a New Digital Economy in NC (BAND-NC) program, which works with communities across the state to bridge North Carolina’s digital divide. Should IEI raise an additional $250,000 by August 2023, the endowment will match these funds, increasing total BAND-NC programmatic support to $750,000.
The widespread implementation of remote work, education, telehealth and other vital services due to the pandemic have emphasized the need for reliable and affordable broadband, as well as increased digital literacy. IEI’s BAND-NC program works with local leaders to develop digital inclusion plans that assess what local resources are available and what tools are needed to improve digital inclusion.
“More than 1.1 million North Carolinians either lack access to broadband, cannot afford broadband or do not have the digital literacy skills to utilize the full potential of broadband, putting them at a disadvantage in an increasingly digital world,” said IEI Interim Director Sarah Langer Hall. “Through this generous gift from the John M. Belk Endowment, we’ll be able to continue bringing local communities together to identify ways to make digital inclusion a reality.”
As of August 2022, fifteen counties have adopted digital inclusion plans through the BAND-NC program. Through this grant, IEI will continue working with counties to address the challenges of broadband adoption and improve digital inclusion efforts.
The goal of BAND-NC is to equip counties to build more digitally equitable communities across the state while making North Carolina the first state in the nation where every county has a digital inclusion plan in place.
About the Institute for Emerging Issues
IEI 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.