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 anyone 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.
Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis through Sunday, August 31, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. EST. To apply, fill out the online form below and attach your application (cover page, narrative, and budget) in a single PDF. If you have questions see the BAND-NC Grant Instructions or if you have technical difficulties, please reach out to Maggie Woods, IEI’s Policy and Program Manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.