State government agencies, universities and community colleges now have until Nov. 10 to apply for $10 million in grants from the state’s first digital equity grant program. The N.C. Department of Information Technology’s Office of Digital Equity and Literacy today announced that the application deadline will be extended for the initial phase of funding, which will invest $10 million to support 10-15 projects.
Applicants for the first round of funding include: all state government organizations as outlined here; University of North Carolina System or individual schools, universities, or centers within the system; and N.C. Community College System or individual schools, colleges or centers within the system. Each grantee will be awarded a maximum of $2 million for a project that must be completed by the end of 2024. This two-year grant funding program encourages collaborative partnerships
“We want to invest these federal funds to make transformational change that will help more North Carolinians afford and take advantage of high-speed internet access and all the opportunities it provides,” said NCDIT Secretary and State Chief Information Officer Jim Weaver. “We are extending the application deadline to give state partners more time to develop and submit applications that will drive measurable change for communities across our state.”
A second phase of funding totaling $14 million will open in early 2023 to support partnerships between municipalities and nonprofits, community-based organizations and key stakeholder groups for local digital inclusion projects and device distribution.
Through both phases, the grant program will invest up to $24 million of federal American Rescue Plan Act funds for collaborative digital equity projects to help North Carolinians afford high-speed internet, obtain digital devices and access digital literacy resources.
These grants are part of Governor Roy Cooper’s plan to give 95 percent of North Carolina households access to high-speed internet by expanding access and addressing issues of affordability and digital literacy. Through these investments, the Office of Digital Equity and Literacy is seeking partnerships with experts to implement digital equity solutions that positively impact target populations identified in the Digital Equity Act. These populations include low-income households; individuals who primarily reside in a rural area; older Americans/aging residents; incarcerated and/or second chance citizens/reentry/justice involved; veterans; individuals with disabilities; individuals with a language barrier (including individuals who are English learners or whose first language is not English and/or those who have low levels of literacy) and individuals who are members of a racial or ethnic minority group.
Applications from state government entities will now be accepted through Nov. 10. Additional details and information session materials can be found at www.ncbroadband.gov/funding-programs/digital-equity-grant.
For more information about the NCDIT Division of Broadband and Digital Equity, please visit www.ncbroadband.gov.