Our Model

  • Tabitha Sasser at her home in East Carroll, Lousianna
    Identify underserved communities
  • Digital navigators work with community in East Carroll Parish
    Engage with communities to understand their digital needs
  • Woman using a design pad
    Develop digital equity master plans
  • Man attaches networking equipment
    Fund community-led broadband solutions
  • Two people shake hands
    Support communities to achieve digital equity over time

While community connectivity providers have demonstrated how to deliver affordable access, these models frequently lack access to capital. We blend philanthropic grants and impact investments to offer communities the right type and size of capital they need, while providing guidance and technical assistance to support them on their journey to digital equity.

Philanthropic Fund

Our grants support digital equity initiatives, policy and research, and master plans that provide the analysis, technical design, and community engagement needed to develop and finance networks.

Impact Investment Fund

We tailor financing to meet the digital equity needs of a project, offering capital at the sizes and terms that set communities up for long-term success. We can be flexible and innovative, including financing needs beyond connectivity infrastructure, such as device access.

Organizations and projects seeking support

We want to learn about your work and find ways to support you. Let’s start the conversation!

Get started

Community connectivity providers in action

Mankosi village in South Africa’s Eastern Cape is home to the county’s first community-owned internet service provider. Zenzeleni (translated as ‘do it yourself’ in isiXhosa) started in 2012, providing free voice services to the village’s 6,000 residents. Owned, operated, and governed by the local community, Zenzeleni has grown into a successful community network providing residents in Mankosi and beyond with affordable internet access at the same speeds as those in the country’s urban centers.
Residents in the small midwestern US city of Ammon, Idaho enjoy some of the fastest speeds and lowest prices in the country. The City Council, recognising that the market alone would not provide adequate internet access, built an open access fiber network to lower the up-front infrastructure investment required by operators. Today customers log in to gigabit speeds for as little as $9.99 a month.
Acre state in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest had no internet until non-profit group Rhizomatica worked with communities to develop HERMES — a system using high-frequency radio networks to allow people to exchange emails and voice messages, transfer data and video files, and explore the internet. The network has helped improve commerce, power the region’s response to Covid-19, and tackle illicit logging.

Community connectivity providers like these need financial support to sustainably scale and meet the digital equity needs in their communities.

Connect Humanity can provide that critical, missing support, de-risking investments with our decades of experience in connectivity policy, technology, and funding.

donaut

Digital Equity

  • Infrastructure
  • Affordability
  • Digital Skills
  • Content
  • Policy

Infrastructure

Scaling community connectivity providers and means of expanding device access

Our approach centers on supporting, catalyzing, and scaling community connectivity providers to meet the needs of underserved communities, reducing the cost of backhaul, and expanding access to devices. Because most connectivity organizations can only absorb small-scale increments of capital, Connect Humanity operates as a critical missing link in the ecosystem — investing manageable amounts in proven models to help local organizations sustainably scale over time. We focus the bulk of our efforts on this foundational step in the path to digital equity.
See more

Affordability

Catalyzing new business & financing models to reduce the cost of connecting

Even where the internet is available, affordability remains a major challenge to access. Connect Humanity tackles this through research that can de-risk financing and business models to connect the unconnected; by building complex capital stacks to bring more sources of funding together to bear the cost of financing network builds; and investing in technology at key points in the connectivity stack. Together, these efforts can reduce the cost of access which is essential to achieving digital equity.
See more

Digital Skills

Developing the workforce that can build the internet and supporting digital literacy initiatives at scale

In order to achieve digital equity, communities must have the skills to use the internet and the knowledge to build it. We’re focusing on supporting both digital literacy at scale (e.g., in schools, on devices, and at points of sale) while also increasing the pipeline of network engineers working in the public interest. This two-pronged process ensures people gain access to the internet and skills to utilize its wealth of resources and protect themselves from new threats like mis- and disinformation or identity theft. In turn, investment in the pipeline and community of network engineers enables communities to build and maintain the internet themselves.
See more

Content

Increasing incentives to use the internet by expanding locally relevant content

Locally relevant content is a critical incentive for getting people across the globe to use and pay for the internet. Sharing and supporting best practices in scaling the production of locally relevant content is a powerful way to help more people to use the internet to improve their lives. Moreover, the current lack of localized content for the majority of communities around the world not only excludes their members from participating in digital society, but also perpetuates the cycle of unaffordable connectivity as few people are willing to pay for access to content that fails to speak to their experience. Expanding locally relevant content encourages more diverse users to access and pay for internet services themselves, starting a new cycle in which the online realm begins to more accurately resemble and serve the world in whole.
See more

Policy

Advocating for changes to accelerate the rate at which people are connecting

Providing regulator training programs and advocating for policies — like “dig once” or increased access to spectrum — will accelerate the rate at which people are connecting. By building broad-based grassroots partnerships between better-informed local and regional leaders, we can foster coalitions and support the community of organizations already hard at work in this area. The right type of policy environment allows for much-needed innovation to flourish. The wrong kind perpetuates digital redlining and related inequities.
See more

Learn more about our funds and apply for support:

Our Funds

Invest in our work accelerating digital equity:

Invest
%d bloggers like this: