The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at NC State University is pleased to announce it has received a $225,000 grant from the SECU Foundation to support its Building a New Digital Economy in NC (BAND-NC) initiative. The program, launched in June 2020, is designed to increase the number of people with internet in their homes with the goal of making North Carolina the first state in the nation where every county has a digital inclusion plan in place. The SECU Foundation joins numerous state and local funders investing in communities to ensure NC is “first in digital inclusion.” The funding will specifically support capacity building for digital inclusion in the Northeastern, Northwestern and Sandhills regions of North Carolina.
“Higher broadband adoption rates are closely linked to increased economic success,” said Leslie Boney, Director of the Institute for Emerging Issues. “This investment gives us a chance to work with counties in regions lagging behind—to increase digital literacy and the number of homes using broadband for education, work and health.”
Working closely with the NC Broadband Infrastructure Office (BIO), BAND-NC has provided mini-grants to communities across the state that are implementing digital inclusion plans, beginning a digital inclusion planning process, or are looking to meet immediate digital needs.
“In today’s environment, the internet and supported devices such as computers and cellphones are vital to how we engage with others, learn, work, and know what’s going on in our local communities and the world,” said Jama Campbell, Executive Director of the SECU Foundation. “BAND-NC will help fill the gap for those with little or no access to internet services, especially in rural or underserved areas of our state. SECU Foundation is proud to help the Institute for Emerging Issues move forward with great success to bring digital equity to all 100 counties of our state.”
COVID-19 has exposed the digital divide in North Carolina and its consequences for all households. 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 are struggling to compete in an increasingly digital economy. IEI’s BAND-NC initiative works alongside communities across NC to create opportunities for everyone to access and be able to use affordable internet and devices.
“Building capacity for digital inclusion is imperative for our economic future. We look forward to working with leaders in the Northeast, Northwest and Sandhills to embark on this important work together,” says Maggie Woods, BAND-NC Director.
To learn more, visit iei.ncsu.edu/band-nc.