A $7.9 million partnership to accelerate broadband access in Appalachia
We are partnering with the Appalachian Regional Commission to fund broadband plans in 50 underserved communities
In communities across Appalachia, families and businesses struggle to access the fast, reliable broadband internet they need in today’s digital world. Connectivity in the region lags behind the national average, and, in 26 counties, fewer than 65% of households had a broadband subscription.
We’re partnering with the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) to change that. Our project will enable us to work with 50 of the least connected communities across 12 Appalachian states, preparing them to build next-generation broadband networks.
The ARC today announced that it is awarding $6.3 million to the effort, with additional funding coming from Connect Humanity and matching grants from the participating communities.
Together, we will create Digital Equity Connectivity Plans that define the technical design, workforce requirements, and market analysis needed to build a quality, sustainable broadband network.
These plans will prepare communities to apply for federal broadband grants, with the potential to bring hundreds of millions of government and private dollars to the region.
Reliable broadband is central to any effective 21st century economic strategy. The follow-on investment this program will generate will lead to billions more in economic activity for the region as businesses find new customers and cost-savings, new businesses are created, and services are run more effectively.
Applications to participate are open now. So if you’re working with an eligible Appalachian community in one of the 12 participating states, read more about our Appalachia Digital Equity Accelerator Grants and apply. If you know a community that could benefit from the program, please share it with them.
We’re growing our team to support this program. Please check out our open roles and share with any potential candidates.
Here’s the ARC press release announcing the program:
ARC Awards $6.3 Million to Bolster Broadband Access Across 50 Communities in Every Appalachian Subregion
The first-ever grant funded through ARC’s new Appalachian Regional Initiative for Stronger Economies, led by Connect Humanity, will provide support to under-connected communities throughout Appalachia, better positioning them to grow broadband economic opportunities.
WASHINGTON, D.C., January 11, 2023 — Today, ARC awarded $6.3 million through its new Appalachian Regional Initiative for Stronger Economies (ARISE) funding opportunity to Connect Humanity for a project that will help 50 underserved communities in every subregion of Appalachia plan for broadband access and growth.
Working with local partners in 12 Appalachian states — Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia — Connect Humanity will help communities develop tailored digital equity plans designed to deliver appropriate technology, business, and financing plans necessary to ensure high-speed and affordable internet for all, device access, and digital literacy training. The growing list of project partners include:
- Center on Rural Innovation
- Empire State Development
- Enterprise Center
- Fair Count
- Generation WV
- Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits & Philanthropy
- NC State University Institute for Emerging Issues
- SOAR – Shaping Our Appalachian Region
- Student Freedom Initiative
- Center for Strategic Partnerships at the Pennsylvania Department of Community & Economic Development
- Virginia Funders Network
While a central focus of the project will be to help 50 under-connected communities across Appalachia compete for some of the $45 billion from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) and Digital Equity Act (DEA) funding that will become available later in 2023, communities will also benefit from the technical assistance provided as part of the project to put them on a path to digital equity.
“ARC’s first ARISE grant to Connect Humanity has tremendous potential to drive large-scale, regional transformation around broadband access,” said ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin. “Broadband access is essential for Appalachia to thrive and compete in a global economy; without this support, our most rural communities may be left further behind. I commend our states and community partners in every Appalachian subregion for coming together in order to fully participate in our digitalized world.”
“President Biden’s Bipartisan infrastructure Law is making sure we don’t leave any community behind as we grow the economy from the bottom up and middle out, especially Appalachia” said Mitch Landrieu, Senior Advisor to the President and White House Infrastructure Coordinator. “Under the leadership of Co-Chair Gayle Manchin, ARC is providing critical resources to make sure states are prepared to help connect all of their residents to affordable, reliable high-speed internet.”
“Access to affordable, high-speed internet is something every family across Appalachia needs and deserves. This project is another important step to ensuring broadband reaches every American,” said ARC States’ Co-Chair Governor Andy Beshear of Kentucky.
“With the U.S. government about to make its biggest ever investment to close the digital divide, it’s critical that the communities that most need support to build better broadband can secure these funds,” said Connect Humanity Program Lead Chris Worman, who added, “This program will put 50 communities in Appalachia on the path to getting fast, reliable, affordable internet, serving hundreds of thousands of families and businesses with the connectivity they need to thrive in an increasingly digital world.”
Appalachian communities can learn more and apply at connecthumanity.fund/arise.