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IEI Receives $260,000 to Address Digital Divide in Eastern North Carolina

Camber Foundation logo and Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation logo

The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at NC State University has received two grants totaling $260,000 to assist communities in eastern North Carolina with digital inclusion planning, bringing the institute closer to its goal of all 100 counties having a local-level digital inclusion plan in place by the end of 2024. 

Digital inclusion planning is a multi-faceted effort with the goal of preparing communities to improve access and adoption of broadband, as well as assist residents with learning digital literacy skills. The planning process includes engaging with local communities to discover their unique needs, gathering data on existing resources, developing strategies and setting priorities. 

Since it was established in 2020, IEI’s Building a New Digital Economy in North Carolina program (BAND-NC) has supported digital inclusion planning efforts in partnership with local councils of governments (COGs) covering more than 55 counties across the state

Camber Foundation Grant 

The Camber Foundation has awarded IEI’s BAND-NC program $50,000 to support digital inclusion planning in the Cape Fear region (Brunswick, Columbus, New Hanover and Pender counties), and in partnership with the Eastern Carolina COG (serving Carteret, Craven, Duplin, Greene, Jones, Lenoir, Onslow, Pamlico and Wayne counties) and the Mid-East Commission (serving Beaufort, Bertie, Hertford, Martin and Pitt counties). 

This funding will help BAND-NC support these COGs with their planning efforts by providing additional resources needed for data collection and stakeholder engagement. IEI will collaborate with the Friday Institute for Educational Innovation at NC State University’s College of Education on this effort.

“BAND-NC is excited to partner with Camber on providing additional capacity for digital inclusion planning in eastern North Carolina.” said IEI’s Director of Community Initiatives Samantha Graham. “This funding will provide much-needed support for data collection and stakeholder engagement so we can ensure that all communities are represented in their digital inclusion plans.”

Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation Grant 

The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation awarded IEI’s BAND-NC program $210,000 to support digital inclusion planning in partnership with the Albemarle Commission (serving Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Dare, Gates, Hyde, Pasquotank, Perquimans, Tyrrell and Washington counties) and the Lumber River COG (serving Bladen, Hoke, Richmond, Robeson and Scotland counties). 

This three-year project will include supporting the development of a digital inclusion plan for each region by the end of 2024, followed by meeting implementation goals outlined in the plans in 2025 and 2026. Stakeholders from each county within the two regions will be involved in the planning process.

“The grant from the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation will provide eastern North Carolina regions with additional resources to help support a robust planning and stakeholder engagement process,” said Graham. “BAND-NC is excited to partner with the Foundation to further our mission to support all communities in bridging the digital divide.”

About the Institute for Emerging Issues

The Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University is a nonpartisan connector, bringing North Carolinians together to find solutions to the state’s emerging and most critical policy issues. 

About the Camber Foundation 

Camber Foundation is an emerging foundation in North Carolina, which began its development in 2021. Built upon philanthropic resources with roots in Eastern North Carolina, this region of the state is a priority. Camber Foundation grants support nonprofit organizations serving community-driven solutions, focusing on the areas of health and wellness, education, and economic development.

About the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation 

The Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation (ZSR) is a statewide, private, family foundation that has been a catalyst for positive change in North Carolina for more than 85 years. ZSR is committed to improving the quality of life for all North Carolinians. Headquartered in Winston-Salem, NC, the Foundation has invested more than $667 million in North Carolina.