$6.3 million grant will help bring Internet to more of eastern Kentucky

Published 5:08 pm Thursday, January 12, 2023


SOAR is a Pikeville-based partner of Accelerating Access: Preparing Appalachian Communities for Digital Equity, a new Connect Humanity project funded by a $6.3 million grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission to help residents of 50 communities in 12 Appalachian states get access to affordable, high-speed broadband.

The grant will help build on the work already done in Eastern Kentucky to expand broadband access.

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Partners in 12 Appalachian states — Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee and West Virginia — will provide 50 communities with the support they need to develop plans that connect all residents with affordable, high-speed broadband, improved device access, and digital literacy training.

“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.”

The growing list of project partners includes SOAR and:

• Center on Rural Innovation/Rural Innovation Strategies, Inc.

• Empire State Development

• Enterprise Center

• Fair Count

• Generation WV

• Mississippi Alliance of Nonprofits & Philanthropy

• NC State University Institute for Emerging Issues

• Student Freedom Initiative

• The Center for Strategic Partnerships

• Virginia Funders Network

The assistance provided to Eastern Kentucky communities and other Appalachian communities will help local partners engage its residents in the digital equity planning process and access additional federal funding opportunities for broadband development, ensuring more Appalachian households can participate in a digital economy.

Interested communities in Appalachian Eastern Kentucky can learn more and apply at connecthumanity.fund/arise.

Additional information about ARC’s ARISE funding opportunity for multi-state collaboration is available at www.arc.gov/ARISE.