Internet Society Announces $1M in Grant Funding to Expand Internet Access to Underserved Communities

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Truist EPIC Grant Will Expand Internet Access

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Internet Society today announced a new grant program, Expanding Potential in Communities, or Truist EPIC Grant, to support broadband initiatives that help alleviate disparities in education, employment and social welfare in the southeastern United States. These grants will expand broadband access in communities with complementary Internet connectivity solutions such as community networks.

 

The grant is part of Truist Cares, a cooperative effort between Truist Financial Corporation, Truist Foundation, Inc., and Truist Charitable Fund to provide communities, organizations and individuals disaster relief and assistance during the COVID-19 crisis. The Internet Society will distribute $1 million in funding through grants between $125,000 to $180,000 to organizations and entities to bring high-speed Internet infrastructure with limited or no Internet access to low-income communities and indigenous populations or communities of color in Alabama, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, D.C.

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the critical role the Internet plays in our daily lives and the vast number of communities unable to access the Internet. The need to connect all communities is urgent as work, school, health care and more continue to shift online.

 

“The pandemic has shown that the Internet is an essential infrastructure for all communities and, without it, opportunities are lost and inequities are magnified,” said Lynette Bell, president of the Truist Foundation. “We must all work to make high-speed broadband available to everyone who needs it. It’s the engine for building strong and sustainable communities and a resource that requires immediate investment.”

 

According to Microsoft data, more than half of Americans — nearly 163 million people — don’t have access to high-speed broadband, with rural and low-income urban areas disproportionately affected. In particular, the southeastern United States lags behind the rest of the country in access to the Internet, with 76.9% of households reporting access compared with the national average of 81.9%.

 

Community networks are communications infrastructures built, managed and used by local communities or municipalities and are a sustainable solution to address these connectivity gaps in underserved regions. The Internet Society has a long history of working with communities worldwide to fund, build and train people with the skills needed to run and maintain community networks.

 

“Closing the digital divide and expanding Internet access is vital, creating healthier, safer and more resilient communities. We are excited to partner with Truist to help rebuild and revitalize communities with the essential infrastructure for Internet access,” said Mark Buell, regional vice president, North America of the Internet Society, a global nonprofit promoting the development and use of an open, globally-connected and secure Internet.

 

The Truist EPIC Grant application will be available starting Jan. 25, 2021, with applications accepted through Feb. 19, 2021. For more information on the grants and to download the application, go to www.Internetsociety.org/grants/epic/.