The first-ever grant funded through ARC’s new Appalachian Regional Initiative for Stronger Economies (ARISE), led by Connect Humanity, will provide support to under-connected communities throughout Appalachia, better positioning them to grow broadband economic opportunities.
This week, 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
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.
ARC’s ARISE Funding Opportunity
ARISE is ARC’s newest initiative to drive large-scale, regional economic transformation through multi-state collaborative projects across Appalachia. Making available $73.5 million in FY 2022 provided through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021, ARC launched ARISE in August of 2022 to strengthen Appalachian business and industry, and to grow and support the development of new economic opportunities across multiple states. Learn more: arc.gov/ARISE.
About the Appalachian Regional Commission
The Appalachian Regional Commission is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 423 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation.