Indigenous Connectivity

Partnering with Tribal Ready to support Tribal Communities in Appalachia

Partnering with Tribal Ready to support Tribal Communities in Appalachia

I joined Connect Humanity just two weeks ago as program director for the Appalachia Digital Equity Accelerator. In this short time I’ve already had the opportunity to connect with dozens of folks across the region to collaborate and engage on the initiative. This includes Joe Velandra and Scott Dinsmore — two digital equity champions that have formed Tribal Ready, a company focused on making sure Tribal communities get their fair share of America’s $42.5 billion BEAD broadband investment.

I’m thrilled to share that Connect Humanity has entered into a partnership with Tribal Ready to engage eight unserved/underserved Tribal communities in the Appalachia Digital Equity Accelerator program.

Here’s the press release with more details.

Tribal Ready and Connect Humanity Partner to Support Eight Tribal Communities in Appalachia to Secure Internet Access

Washington, D.C. – Today, Tribal Ready and Connect Humanity announce a new partnership
to collaborate and support eight unserved/underserved Tribal communities across the
geography served by the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) through the design and
completion of Digital Equity Connectivity Plans and applications for federal funding to support broadband expansion, including Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) and Digital Equity Act (DEA) funds.

“Our new partnership with Connect Humanity will enable us to reach eight Tribal communities with information and support that will be critical to their success in securing funding for broadband,” said Joe Valandra, CEO and President of Tribal Ready. “Tribal Ready looks forward to collaborating with Connect Humanity and other like-minded organizations to ensure Tribal Nations have a seat at the table.”

This partnership is part of the Appalachian Digital Equity Accelerator Grants program, supported by the Appalachian Regional Initiative for Stronger Economies (ARISE) program — a new ARC initiative that aims to drive large-scale, regional economic transformation through multi-state collaborative projects across Appalachia. Together, the organizations will conduct outreach to Tribal communities within ARC’s service area to encourage and support them in their efforts to apply for the Appalachia Digital Equity Accelerator Grants program.

The program will support 50 communities across Appalachia to plan, fund, and build next-generation broadband networks, with participating communities receiving funding and technical assistance to do the community engagement, technical design, workforce development, and financial analysis needed to build an affordable, sustainable broadband network. Participants will also receive hands-on support to secure federal funding and other investment to make these networks a reality.

Tribal Ready will use its decades of experience in communication network design and local expertise to identify Tribal leaders and organizations in Appalachia and support them to apply for the program. Connect Humanity and Tribal Ready will then work together to host a webinar and educate leaders about the program and the importance of applying for funding to support their broadband expansion efforts.

“Connect Humanity is excited to partner with Tribal Ready and grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with a company committed to bridging the Tribal digital divide,” said Samantha Schartman, Director of Philanthropic Programs at Connect Humanity. “Native communities remain some of the least digitally connected in the US. With Tribal Ready’s support, this program will ensure Tribal communities in Appalachia have the information and resources they need to shape a digital future on their terms. This builds on the work of the Indigenous Connectivity Institute — an initiative we’re hosting to advance digital equity in tribal Communities.”

Tribal Ready joins other program partners in outreach to communities in Appalachia, including the The Enterprise Center, Fair Count, Generation WV, Just Transition Fund, Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits & Philanthropy, North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, SEDA Council of Governments, SOAR – Shaping Our Appalachian Region, and more.

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