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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.