BAND-NC is a grant program designed to increase the number of people with internet in their homes, with the goal of making the state “first in digital inclusion.”
The Institute for Emerging Issues is pleased to present the current grantees.
Alamance, Guilford, and Forsyth Counties
Piedmont Triad Regional Council
To help solve key digital and internet disparities in their region, the Piedmont Triad Regional Council will develop Digital Inclusion plans unique to the jurisdictions of City of Winston-Salem/Forsyth County, City of Greensboro/Guilford County and Alamance County. The primary activities involved in the planning process will include convening stakeholders, surveying populations, collecting data, and offering digital skills and literacy trainings and workshops to local stakeholders.
Anson County is working to expand a successful library hotspot program for its citizens. The County will use the funding to purchase 5 mobile hotspots and their subscription costs for a year, as well as 5 chromebooks and laptop bags. This program will allow residents of Anson County a one stop rental in order to access the internet through the Sandhill Regional Library System.
Beaufort County Schools
Beaufort County Schools recently conducted a study indicating that 1,100 students and parents don’t have access to high speed internet in their home. Despite the school system’s efforts to provide laptops and wireless hotspots for kids to access online materials, the disparity still leaves some students at a disadvantage. BAND-NC funds will help to fill gaps by purchasing an additional 50 hotspots for deployment around the county.
Bertie County Hive House
The Bertie County Hive House (The Hive) is a trusted center of resources for the residents of Lewiston-Woodville and western Bertie County, a rural part of the county home to approximately 1,000 people. Since the advent of COVID-19, many students in the county have lost access to the level of support that they need and deserve to achieve. The Hive has received donations of funds and equipment to provide many Hive participants attending the county’s Early College with laptops, but these students do not have affordable and/or physical access to hotspots. BAND-NC funds will cover the cost of 40 hotspots and cellular service plans for these students.
Brunswick Senior Resources, Inc.
Early in the pandemic, Brunswick Senior Resources Inc. began testing virtual programming such as group fitness classes, music lessons and live performances, tech help tutorials, caregiver support groups and more, and received an overwhelmingly positive response. Participants are eager for more options to connect and stay active in the safety of their homes. To continue these programs and create quality content, Brunswick Senior Resources Inc. is creating virtual studios for five senior centers. Each virtual studio will include a tripod stand, lighting equipment, a speaker system, a headset/microphone, and a streaming device.
Buncombe, Henderson, Madison, and Transylvania Counties
Land of Sky Regional Council
Land of Sky Regional Council is currently supporting broadband efforts in their four member counties: Buncombe, Henderson, Madison and Transylvania. In partnership with area community colleges, Land of Sky will purchase computers and laptops for community college students who need them. The funds will also enable Land of Sky to work with their member communities to develop county-specific digital inclusion plans.
Carteret County Economic Development Foundation, Inc.
Carteret County Economic Development Foundation, Inc is looking to expand broadband access throughout Carteret County. BAND-NC funding will help them to develop a countywide broadband and digital inclusion plan to meet the digital needs in their community.
Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry
Greater Hickory Cooperative Christian Ministry (GHCCM) provides service for the homeless and those who have fallen within 200% of Federal Poverty Guidelines. GHCCM is working to expand its virtual programming but needs to be flexible with classroom locations and the number of participants. They will use BAND-NC funds to partially fund technical assistance for remote learners/workers and purchase needed equipment including four portable mobile TVs with carts and accessories.
Chatham County Council on Aging
Chatham County Council on Aging is looking to find ways to bridge the digital divide for senior residents, because as they stay in their home, and as their family members keep distance, their world grows smaller. BAND-NC funds will support a pilot project to purchase tablets and subsidized internet service for 15 low-income seniors currently lacking access to the internet in their homes. Chatham County Council on Aging staff and volunteers will provide training and support to seniors to use these tablets and measure their engagement and the impact of this access.
Town of Belwood
The Town of Belwood is working to establish secure wireless internet access at the Belwood Community Center facility. There are no public schools, libraries, or other public/governmental facilities in the area except the Belwood Community Center, which has never had internet access. The project will serve Belwood and northern Cleveland County residents, with emphasis on school-age children and their parents/guardians needing access to online learning platforms.
Peletah Ministries is working to bridge the growing digital divide in Craven County, with a special focus on refugee families. BAND-NC funds will provide access to devices for students engaged in remote learning, enable Peletah Ministries to have a 24/7 drive-in Wifi service for those who don’t have internet at home and provide digital literacy classes for parents in order to better integrate and engage in remote learning.
Central United Methodist Church
Central United Methodist Church is establishing an e-Learning center to provide technical assistance for remote learners and workers. This center will provide high speed internet services, digital literacy and technical support.
Kramden Institute is creating a digital inclusion plan for the city and county of Durham. The creation of the plan is being driven by Digital Durham, a community collaborative dedicated to digital equity and inclusion work in Durham.
Edgecombe County Public Schools
Edgecombe County Public Schools (ECPS) is working on a project called ECPS EDGE Family Academy to better support families as they navigate remote learning. This will be a five part course for parents, guardians, and families of the ECPS students. Curriculum will include: overview of the ECPS Remote Learning Plan and parent resources; tutorials of specific learning apps and software, digital communication tools to connect with students’ teachers, internet safety tips, and understanding broadband and internet connectivity challenges.
Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash, Northampton, and Wilson Counties
Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments
The Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments (UCPCOG) will implement a regional digital inclusion planning process, with the goal of developing a unique digital literacy plan for each county in the region. UCPCOG has a close relationship with its 46 member local governments that comprise the rural, five-county region (Edgecombe, Halifax, Nash, Northampton and Wilson Counties). This positions UCPCOG to lead the broader planning effort in close partnership with member governments and leverage efforts to deliver digital inclusion plans that are customized to each county’s specific challenges and desires.
Friends of the Gaston County Public Library
The Friends of the Gaston County Public Library is working to provide extended Wi-Fi access at the library locations. Residents are in need of wireless connection, but the library’s Wi-Fi does not radiate outside the walls of the library. Wi-Fi reception is weak in the parking lots. They are working to provide a wireless access point outside of the Main Library building, reaching out into the parking lot, and extending Wi-Fi access to 300 feet. The Main Library was selected as the project starting location because the library is centrally located in the county, is on the city bus route, and has 15 schools within a three-mile radius.
City of Oxford
The City of Oxford is working to provide free public Wi-Fi in the Downtown district of Oxford which will allow access to every citizen.
Haywood Community College
Haywood Community College is working to address the digital and internet needs of their low-income students.They have launched a program to close the digital divide by providing laptops, headsets and webcams to students who need them. BAND-NC funds will be used to expand this service by providing wifi hotspots through the library lending program, allowing students to access the internet in their homes.
Jackson and Macon Counties
HEIGHTS Inc is a restorative justice non-profit that serves youth who have multiple behavioral health needs. HEIGHTS has set up learning PODS to monitor and advise students during their virtual school in Macon and Jackson counties. These PODS will enable youth to come together to a place where they can access the internet to complete their schoolwork and have access to an educational tutoring and support person.
Martin County Schools
Martin County Schools is working on a digital expansion project which will serve the K-12 population who are experiencing difficulties participating in virtual learning. Martin County will utilize the funds from BAND-NC to purchase devices to cover many of the students that do not have access to needed technology.
Connect McDowell has identified the East Marion community as an urgent “community of need” for continued student distance learning participation. 69% of student households in this community report no dedicated internet connection, making it one of the least connected and most vulnerable student populations in McDowell County. Connect McDowell is working with Eastfield Global Magnet Elementary School and Marion East Community Forum to create a pilot project called Project BRIDGE for 20 families in East Marion, designed to give parents and guardians the digital skills needed to participate in distance education.
Working in partnership with several community organizations, Digi-Bridge is working to develop digital literacy resources and training for Spanish-speaking families with students in the Charlotte Mecklenburg schools. The funding from BAND-NC will be used to host bilingual training sessions for families using online learning platforms such as Canvas, NCEdCloud, Google Classroom and Zoom. They will also hold open technology hours for families at critical school and neighborhood locations, and develop dual language printed and online resources for families to use and share in their neighborhood.
New Hanover County
Cape Fear Collective
Cape Fear Collective’s goal is to bring enhanced Wi-Fi access to serve remote learning sites across the county. Collectively these remote learning sites at area nonprofits and churches will host approximately 650-800 students across multiple sites with the opportunity to grow their numbers as restrictions on group gatherings loosen.
Polk and Rutherford Counties
Carolina Community Broadband Alliance
Carolina Community Broadband Alliance (CCBA) has created a subsidy program to serve low-income residents in Polk and Rutherford counties who are unable to afford broadband. The priority for subsidy funds will be student households, particularly those without access to remote learning. Individuals who qualify for the subsidy fund receive a 50% discount on Internet access.
NC Cooperative Extension Randolph County Center
NC Cooperative Extension Randolph County Center is working on a collaborative approach to address the digital needs of students in the county. The Randolph County School System conducted a recent survey to prepare for the 2020-2021 school year which revealed 8% of students did not have broadband access in the home, and 34% of students needed appropriate devices to access learning resources for remote learning. In collaboration with the Randolph County School System, the Randolph County Public Library, and the Randolph-Asheboro YMCA, BAND-NC funds will be used to purchase Chromebooks for students throughout the county.
Rufty-Holmes Senior Center
Rufty-Holmes Senior Center is planning to hire a Digital Navigator to set up devices for use by the county’s older adults and to provide guidance on connecting and use of the devices. Educating older adults in Rowan County on these devices will help to close the digital divide and provide more opportunities to connect to services and reduce social isolation. Rufty-Holmes Senior Center seeks to expand virtual programming options by loaning easy-to-use technology equipment to older adults who do not have access to equipment and Wi-Fi.
Smoky Mountain TechWorks, Inc.
Smoky Mountain TechWorks, Inc goal is to improve and provide connectivity for Swain County students in order to complete coursework during remote learning by improving and expanding community and individual hotspots. They plan to add four community hotspots using fixed wireless and fourteen personal hotspots for student checkout using cellular services. Both will be free to the student users.
Watauga County Schools
Watauga County School’s main goal is to help address the broadband and remote learning needs for Spanish-speaking, immigrant and low income families with school-aged children in their county. They will use the grant funds to work towards three goals: 1) to collect data on the needs of the Latinx immigrant and low-income populations; 2) to provide families in need with hotspots and/or subsidies for internet subscriptions; and 3) to provide digital literacy training for Spanish-speaking families.
Wayne County Public Library
Wayne County Public Library is working on a project to help increase digital equity for the Dudley community located in the southern area of Wayne County, a Tier 1 county. This project will have a three-pronged approach (access, devices, and technical support services). BAND-NC funds will be used to hire a Data Manager which will report outcomes related to the program by creating pre and post training and project surveys to document improved access, technology skill growth, and gains in knowledge of digital resources and e-government services.