Connect2Compete Fall Campaign to Address Rural Broadband Challenge
Partnership with Delta Regional Authority to Pilot Internet Access and Digital Literacy.
MISSISSIPPI DELTA – Connect2Compete has announced that, in partnership with the Delta Regional Authority (DRA), 45 schools in three Delta-region states will have access to reduced-cost Internet service, affordable computers, and free digital literacy training during a pilot program this fall.
A public-private initiative championed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and launched last year to narrow the digital divide, C2C is providing free digital-literacy training, discounted high-speed Internet and low-cost computers for low-income Americans.
DRA has already made significant strides towards expanding broadband infrastructure and increasing computer and Internet adoption through its iDelta initiative. Its partnership with C2C represents a joint effort to bring the benefits of the Internet to those families with the most to gain from increased access to online information and resources.
“Once considered a luxury, owning a computer and an Internet connection have become absolutely essential to getting a job, succeeding in school, and participating in today’s society,” said C2C CEO Zach Leverenz. “Low-income and minority Americans -- whether in urban or rural settings -- disproportionately find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide – excluded from the $8 trillion digital economy and all of its benefits. C2C works to close that divide.”
“We know now more than ever that a more connected Delta region is a more productive Delta region,” said Chris Masingill, Federal Co-Chairman of the Delta Regional Authority. “Broadband availability in our communities connects our people to increased educational and professional opportunities and creates jobs in the region. Today’s announcement is a commitment to bridging the digital divide, and I look forward to the work that Connect2Compete will do in our part of the world.”
The percentage of Delta-region school districts operating a Web site lags behind the national average, 54% compared to 62%. There is also a disparity between the pricing available to rural as compared to urban areas. C2C’s program will begin the process of change by offering affordable computers and Internet to eligible families in the 45 participating Delta region, and other areas like it.
As part of the pilot phase, C2C will bring its full complement of offerings, including reduced-cost broadband Internet, affordable computers, and both online and in-person free digital literacy training.
“Broadband can be the great equalizer – giving every American with an Internet connection access to a world of new opportunities that might previously have been beyond their reach,” said Chairman of the FCC Julius Genachowski. “The Connect2Compete initiative is helping ensure that more Americans enjoy the education, health, and economic benefits of broadband.”
To be eligible, families must have a student enrolled in the National Free School Lunch Program and, for the broadband offer, must not be currently subscribed to a broadband service. The local and online digital literacy services, however, will be publicly available for free at Connect2Compete.org where visitors can find an array of online content or be connected with in-person services in their own community. C2C will roll out nationally in early 2013.
C2C’s fall pilot campaign will involve schools in the following areas (number of schools in parentheses):
Louisiana – Abbeville (1), Baton Rouge (10), Breaux Bridge (2), St. Martinville (2), Kenner (1), Metairie (1), Waggaman (1), Westwego (1), New Orleans (4), St. Rose (1), Violet (1), Alexandria (7)
Mississippi – Greenville (5), Greenwood (5)
Arkansas – Jonesboro (3)
C2C is a national nonprofit organization designed to help narrow the digital divide by making high-speed Internet access, computers, education and jobs content, and digital literacy training more accessible for Americans without home connectivity. Founded less than a year ago, C2C includes more than 40 non-profit and private sector partners, including the nation’s largest cable Internet companies. Additional partners include Best Buy, Discovery, LULAC, the National Urban League, Intel, Institute for Museum and Library Services, Microsoft, Sunesys, CFY, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America among others. Learn more at Connect2Compete.org.
About Delta Regional Authority:
The Delta Regional Authority, a federal-state partnership created by Congress in 2000, is mandated to identify and provide economic development investments to the 252 counties and parishes of the Delta. Through the Rural Communities Advancement Program, the DRA funds regional initiatives with the guiding principal to help create jobs, build communities, and improve lives in the Delta region.
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