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New $6.3M Grant Will Help Institute for Emerging Issues, Partners Expand Broadband Access in 12 Appalachian States

RALEIGH, NC—We’re proud partners of Accelerating Access: Preparing Appalachian Communities for Digital Equity, a new Connect Humanity project funded by a $6.3M grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC)! The Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University is one of 12 local partners that will work with Connect Humanity to help 50 communities in 12 Appalachian states connect all residents with affordable, high-speed broadband.

The grant will help us build on the work we have already done in Appalachian North Carolina to expand broadband access. Partners in 12 Appalachian states — Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia — will provide 50 communities with the support they need to develop plans that connect all residents with affordable, high-speed broadband, improved device access, and digital literacy training.

“ARC’s first ARISE grant to Connect Humanity has tremendous potential to drive large-scale, regional transformation around broadband access,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “Broadband access is essential for Appalachia to thrive and compete in a global economy; without this support, our most rural communities may be left further behind. I commend our states and community partners in every Appalachian subregion for coming together in order to fully participate in our digitalized world.”

The growing list of project partners includes IEI and:

“IEI is excited to partner with ARC and Connect Humanity to build off the digital inclusion work we’ve been supporting in western North Carolina,” said Samantha Graham, IEI’s Digital Inclusion Initiative Leader. “This funding will provide additional resources to dig deeper into community needs and assets and help our regional partners be more competitive for federal digital inclusion funding.”

The assistance provided to North Carolina communities and other Appalachian communities will help local partners engage its residents in the digital equity planning process and access additional federal funding opportunities for broadband development, ensuring more Appalachian households can participate in our digitized economy. 

Interested communities in Appalachian NC can learn more and apply at Additional information about ARC’s ARISE funding opportunity for multi-state collaboration is available at


About the Institute for Emerging Issues

The Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University is a nonpartisan public policy organization focused on the state’s vibrancy and economic competitiveness. Since 1986, IEI’s Emerging Issues Forum has attracted leaders in business, education and public policy to discuss issues with profound implications for North Carolina’s future prosperity. It has helped catalyze the policy reforms, public investments and other proactive responses required to build an enduring capacity for progress in North Carolina.

About the Appalachian Regional Commission

The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.