BAND-NC Impact Report
Welcome and Program Overview
Welcome to the Building a New Digital Economy in NC (BAND-NC) biennial report. Our team is excited to present you with this review, highlighting important updates from the past two fiscal years of the BAND-NC program.
As part of the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State University, the BAND-NC team is proud to support IEI’s vision of a North Carolina where people connect and collaborate to build a vibrant and prosperous future for all. We do this through developing connections with regions and local communities across North Carolina to provide resources, training and thought partnership to address the digital divide.
Our program has grown and evolved over the past two years to help communities from the mountains to the coast connect regionally to support local digital inclusion needs.
We awarded rapid response grants for local projects through 2021, while evolving the overall BAND-NC program to focus on digital inclusion planning across regions.
Through the support of Dogwood Health Trust, the State Employees Credit Union Foundation, the John M. Belk Endowment and the N.C. Department of Information Technology, BAND-NC has supported the development of 27 digital inclusion plans covering 48 counties in the state. We will work with regional planning groups to cover the remaining communities with a plan by the end of 2024.
More information about our support of digital inclusion planning, on a local and statewide level, can be found in this report.
Our team has also grown. I was honored to join the BAND-NC team in September of 2022 as the program’s digital inclusion initiative leader. Kylie Foley – a familiar name around IEI – joined our team in fall 2022 as our digital inclusion initiative associate, and Jess Epsten joined our team in August 2023 as our new BAND-NC project specialist. Colin Fox was also an integral member of the BAND-NC team as our digital inclusion fellow. We wish him the best of luck as he continues with his academic career, and thank him for his support of digital inclusion in North Carolina!
We are excited to continue providing technical assistance through our webinars and peer sharing network, support through thought partnership and funding for implementation projects, as well as continued leadership around digital inclusion planning.
On behalf of the entire BAND-NC team, we are grateful for your partnership and support of our work to close North Carolina’s digital divide.
Providing Immediate Digital Divide Resources
In fall of 2021, BAND-NC awarded 12 rapid response grants totaling $70,000 for the following community implementation projects:
- A Better Chance, A Better Community (ABC2)
- Beaufort Hyde Partnership for Children
- Community Technical Assistance Inc.
- Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church
- HUBZone Technology Initiative
- Kramden Institute
- NC One Hundred Strong
- Randolph County Partnership for Children
- Smart Start of Pender County, Inc.
- Stanly County
- The Rocky Mount Housing Authority (South Eastern NC Community Development Corp)
Supporting Local-level Digital Inclusion Planning
Thanks to a $2 million grant from Dogwood Health Trust and additional funding from the John M Belk Endowment and the State Employees Credit Union Foundation, BAND-NC was able to support digital inclusion planning and strategy implementation in five regional councils of governments covering 26 counties in Western North Carolina.
Digital Inclusion Planning Kick-off Events
BAND-NC hosted a virtual celebration of Western North Carolina’s digital inclusion work in January 2023 featuring speakers from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, Dogwood Health Trust, the NC Office of Digital Equity and Literacy, and local digital inclusion planners and champions.
BAND-NC was awarded $1.2 million from the N.C. Department of Information Technology, and with additional funding from Google Fiber was able to leverage a $250,000 match from the John M Belk Endowment to support planning and implementation in the remaining regions of North Carolina, with a goal of each county being covered by a plan by the end of 2024.
Anybody in a rural county such as Gates County understands that [the digital] divide is massive. Broadband is coming… and they need to know how to leverage technology to help them through their daily lives.
Dr. Althea Riddick
Gates County Commissioner
Supporting Statewide Digital Inclusion Planning
As part of our work with NCDIT, IEI is in the final stages of a literature review that will support a new statewide digital inclusion plan.
BAND-NC also partnered with Connect Humanity to support broadband planning in the Appalachian Regional Commission.
On Nov. 21, 2022, IEI hosted leadership from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration and NCDIT, as well as Congressman David Price to announce $6.4 million in federal funding for broadband expansion and digital inclusion efforts in North Carolina from the Internet for All Initiative.
The Path Forward
The BAND-NC team has grown to allow for additional capacity for technical assistance and digital inclusion planning support. The team will continue to coordinate a peer-sharing network for planners and stakeholders to share successes, challenges, and learn from one another through webinars. Digital inclusion planning will kick-off in eastern North Carolina this fall with a goal of covering every county in North Carolina with a plan by the end of 2024. To get involved with this effort or just to stay up to date, please sign up for BAND-NC’s monthly newsletter, Connected.