COVID-19 is exposing the digital divide in North Carolina and its consequences for all of us. Students and adults who don’t have access to the internet, don’t have a computer or laptop or don’t know how to use them – for education, work, health, or connection – are at an impossible disadvantage.
Digital Inclusion – creating opportunities for everyone to access and be able to use affordable internet and devices – is more important than ever.
What is BAND-NC?
In response to this immediate need, the Institute for Emerging Issues at NC State (IEI) in partnership with the Broadband Infrastructure Office at the NC Department of Information Technology, and with principal support from the John M. Belk Endowment¹, is addressing the digital divide across NC through a new program called “Building a New Digital Economy” (BAND-NC). BAND-NC will provide rapid-response community innovation mini-grants to communities across the state.
This fall, grantees will be invited to join technical assistance workshops to build county-wide digital inclusion plans. A second round of funding to support the implementation of these plans will be available in Spring 2021.
The ultimate goal of the program is to make North Carolina the first state in the nation where every county has a digital inclusion plan in place.
¹ Additional support comes from the Roanoke Electric Cooperative and North Carolina Electric Cooperatives.
What can the BAND-NC grants be used for?
These $5,000 mini-grants are available to fund local digital inclusion projects to meet unmet community needs. This includes access to the Internet, a device that meets their needs, and the knowhow to use it.
We plan to distribute rapid response community innovation grants to 30 counties this summer. We will only fund one project per county. If an organization from your county has already applied or already received a grant, we will put you in touch to encourage collaboration.
Who Can Apply?
Nonprofits, government institutions, schools/colleges and universities, and churches are eligible to apply for a BAND-NC grant. All applicants should apply on behalf of a county (or a group of counties). Regional entities, such as Councils of Government, can apply on behalf of multiple counties, though the funds cannot exceed $5,000 for any one county, and they must include individual counties in their planning efforts. Applicants should include a list of community partners who are either involved in the project and/or actively supportive of the project and digital inclusion more broadly.
- June 12: Application released
- June 12-August 31: Applications accepted on a rolling basis
- June 19 at 9 a.m.: Information Webinar (View recording here and presentation slides here)
- August 31: Application Deadline
- October 27 and November 10 from 10:30 a.m.-12 noon: Series of Digital Inclusion Plan webinars (strongly encouraged that finalists attend)
- Spring 2021: Digital Inclusion Plan Implementation mini-grants open (Dates TBD)
Frequently Asked Questions
Nonprofits, government institutions, schools/colleges and universities, and churches are eligible to apply for a BAND-NC grant. All applicants should apply on behalf of a county (or a group of counties). If you are not a local government agency, please indicate who you are working with in local government. Applicants should include a list of community partners who are either involved in the project and/or actively supportive of the project and digital inclusion more broadly.
Yes. Regional entities, such as Councils of Government, can apply on behalf of multiple counties, though the funds cannot exceed $5,000 for any one county, and they must include individual counties in their planning efforts.
The final deadline to apply is August 31. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis throughout the summer.
Your application will be reviewed and evaluated based on the guidelines in the application instructions. Your application must include a cover page, narrative, and budget. The narrative should include a Description of Proposed Digital Inclusion Project, Potential Barriers, Partners and Local Engagement, and Intended Outcomes and Metrics. The narrative should not exceed 2 pages, single-spaced, 12-point font, 1-inch margins. The cover page, and budget are not included in the 2-page limit.
Yes, if you have questions about your specific non-profit status, please reach out to Maggie Woods at email@example.com.
Probably not, but it could help with planning and education. BAND-NC is not meant to be an infrastructure grant. However, the mini-grant could help with some planning and data collection and/or education in preparation for a larger infrastructure project. Please reach out to Maggie Woods (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have questions.
We understand that digital inclusion affects regions, counties and people differently and that there is no one-size-fits all approach to meeting local needs. However, national and state-level data demonstrates that certain groups are experiencing digital exclusion at higher rates than others, including low-income households, Black, Latino, immigrant and Tribal communities, seniors, and those without access to internet in their homes. Extra consideration will be granted to projects that serve these groups.