Governor Roy Cooper today announced the launch of the state’s Digital Champion Grant program, which will help North Carolinians afford high-speed internet, obtain digital devices and access digital literacy resources. The N.C. Department of Information Technology’s Office of Digital Equity and Literacy will administer the program with $14 million in federal American Rescue Plan Act funds with the goal of expanding digital equity programming and advancing digital inclusion.
"All North Carolinians need the resources and skills to access high-speed internet and use it safely and effectively,” said Governor Cooper. “This program will help ensure that every resident of our state is part of today’s digital economy and can work, learn, access telehealth and connect with others online.”
Through this grant program, the Office of Digital Equity and Literacy will establish partnerships with organizations across the state to implement digital equity solutions that positively impact target populations identified in the Digital Equity Act, including low-income households; individuals who primarily reside in a rural area; older Americans/aging residents; incarcerated or justice involved; veterans; individuals with disabilities; individuals with a language barrier; and individuals who are members of a racial or ethnic minority group.
To qualify for funding, applicants must be one of the following types of entities: community services (including local governments, county libraries and K-12 school systems); nonprofit organizations; higher education institutions (including individual schools, colleges or centers within the system); or regional entities (including councils of governments).
All projects must develop or expand digital equity programming and address at least one of the following elements of digital inclusion:
- Affordability of reliable high-speed internet
- Provision of internet-enabled devices (computer, laptops, etc.) that meet users' needs
- Access to digital literacy and skills training
- Quality technical support
- Applications and online content designed to increase accessibility and inclusivity
Applications will be accepted online through Jan. 9, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. via the state’s new digital equity grant portal. Each applicant may apply for up to $400,000 per county served with a maximum application request of $1.5 million. Information sessions for applicants will be held later in November and December. Additional details can be found at ncbroadband.gov/digital-equity-grant.
“We are excited to collaborate with trusted organizations throughout North Carolina on this new grant program,” said NCDIT Secretary and State Chief Information Officer Jim Weaver. “These organizations know the needs of their communities firsthand and have established relationships that we can utilize to expand digital equity and inclusion across our state.”
The Digital Champion Grants are part of Governor Cooper’s plan to close the digital divide by expanding access to high-speed internet and addressing issues of affordability and digital literacy. For more information, please visit ncbroadband.gov.