We have compiled a list of key resources to help communities, businesses, organizations and individuals access important information during this time. Resources include maps of where to find free or low-cost internet service, toolkits to create a digital inclusion project or coalition, organizations providing free or low-cost devices, etc., as well as new research.
MAPS & DATA
COVID-19 Internet Service Offering
In response to COVID-19, many North Carolinians are being asked to work and learn at home. To help ensure everyone has access to affordable, high-speed internet, the Broadband Infrastructure Office at the North Carolina Department of Information Technology has created an interactive map with all low-cost and emergency offers from internet service providers in the state. North Carolinians can enter their address, and see which offers are available to them at their location. This map will be updated as new offers are put in place.
NC Broadband Indices
In February 2020, the North Carolina Broadband Infrastructure Office released two indices designed to create a more accurate picture of the state’s broadband access, adoption, and the resulting digital divide. The indices are interactive and were developed by Roberto Gallardo, PhD, a renowned broadband researcher from Purdue University. This tool was designed for North Carolina’s state and local leaders to:
- Understand the current state of broadband access, adoption and the digital divide in their community.
- Visualize their individual community’s specific challenges, opportunities, and key factors contributing to the divide.
- Assist leaders as they design specific solutions that meet the specific needs of their communities.
COVID-19 Resources to Support Digital Inclusion
The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) has been actively providing resources to individuals and organizations focused on increasing access to the internet and devices. Recognizing that most of this work is local and that resources are limited, NDIA is providing updates on data, funding opportunities, and more.
FREE AND LOW-COST DEVICES
The Kramden Institute provides the technology, tools, and training to bridge the digital divide. They collect, refurbish and award computers to students and families without a computer in their home, teach students critical computer, software and Internet skills; and recycle and reuse donated computers and parts. Kramden has provided refurbished computers and digital literacy to more than 5,500 students and adults in 83 counties across North Carolina. In response to COVID-19, Kramden is hosting free weekly beginner classesto teach people about their devices. They have also provided emergency assistance and granted more than 500 computers to students who did not have access to a computer at home.
Since 2013, E2D has partnered with over 150 schools in the Charlotte Mecklenburg area to provide computers, laptops, digital access, and computer training to over 11,500 families. They work closely with municipal leaders, corporate supporters, community educators, and volunteers to study the digital divide and create digital solutions for students and families.
The Cristina Foundation is a national technology reuse foundation that facilitates the donation of used computer equipment by individuals, small businesses, and corporations, and matches those donated computers with nearby organizations that provide education, rehabilitation and job training to people in need. They offer a national technology donation platform where you can donate devices or request devices.
TOOLKITS AND GUIDEBOOKS
Digital Inclusion Guidebooks
The National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) has put together guidebooks on the following topics:
- Digital Inclusion Start-Up Manual: This manual is intended to provide guidance to individuals looking to increase access and use of technology in disadvantaged communities through digital literacy training, affordable home broadband, affordable devices and tech support. These efforts might take place within a community-based organization, a library, a housing authority, a local government or other community locations.
- Digital Inclusion Coalition Guidebook: This Guidebook reflects lessons learned from six established community-wide digital inclusion coalitions across the country, including the Charlotte Digital Inclusion Alliance in North Carolina.
Improving Workers’ Resilience in an Era of Digitization
This report, produced by Rework America Business Network (a Markle Foundation Initiative) discusses the future of work and the need not just for new tech skills, but also foundational digital literacy to create a more resilient workforce capable of adapting and responding to new systems, tools, and processes. The report includes a framework for digital literacy to help employers understand the digital skills needed for their sector/workplace as well as a guide to getting started.
Digital prosperity: How broadband can deliver health and equity to all communities
This recently released report by the Brookings Institute highlights the economic and social benefits of broadband as well as the barriers to access and adoption and shares possible interventions to address broadband gaps. The report offers a list of strategies to educate decisionmakers, community members, and influencers.
How States Are Expanding Broadband Access
The Pew Charitable Trusts examined state broadband programs nationwide and found that they have many similarities but also differences that reflect the political environment, the state’s resource levels, the geography of the areas that remain unserved by broadband, and the entities that provide service. This report identifies and explores these promising practices through examples in nine states: California, Colorado, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Unlocking the Digital Potential of Rural America
A recent report conducted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in partnership with Amazon demonstrates that improving the digital space in rural America can generate economic benefits. Key findings indicate that increased adoption of digital technology could grow annual revenues of rural small businesses by more than 21% over the next three years – the equivalent of $84.5 billion per year – and create more than 360,000 jobs.
OTHER HELPFUL RESOURCES