North Carolina organizations will get $4 million to help North Carolinians connect to high-speed internet, learn how to use digital devices, develop digital skills and enroll in the Affordable Connectivity Program, the N.C. Department of Information Technology (NCDIT) announced.
The funds are part of the state’s first initiative to provide digital navigators. The NCDIT Division of Broadband and Digital Equity made awards today for the state’s first digital navigator initiative to help people navigate the digital world.
“All North Carolinians need the skills to safely access the internet and its many resources,” said Governor Roy Cooper. “Digital navigators will provide local assistance to help more people learn to use the internet for health, education and jobs.”
The Office of Digital Equity and Literacy, a part of the Division of Broadband and Digital Equity within NCDIT, awarded grants to three major anchor institutions that serve every county:
- State Library of North Carolina: Awarded $1.3 million to provide digital navigation services at libraries by hiring regional digital inclusion facilitators and a digital inclusion coordinator to assist participating public and tribal libraries statewide.
- N.C. Community College System: Awarded $1.3 million to deploy trained digital navigators at 20 community colleges serving Tier 1 and 2 counties, create a Spanish and English version of the Digital Navigator Certificate, and recruit adults from communities most impacted by the digital divide to serve as digital navigators.
- N.C. Cooperative Extension: Awarded $1.3 million to hire digital literacy and skills extension agents in participating counties and train existing extension agents to host digital literacy and skills educational opportunities in their communities.
“Digital navigators play a pivotal role in helping communities across the state connect to the internet and engage in the modern economy,” said NCDIT Secretary and State Chief Information Officer Jim Weaver. “By partnering with these anchor institutions, we are creating meaningful digital literacy resources to help more North Carolinians on a one-to-one basis.”
The digital navigator initiative uses federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds and encourages collaborative partnerships that positively impact all North Carolinians, including the aging; people who live in rural areas; veterans; households at or below 150 percent of the federal poverty level; individuals with disabilities; members of a racial or ethnic minority group; immigrants; individuals with a language barrier, including those who are English learners and/or have low levels of literacy; people who are LGBTQI+; and incarcerated individuals.
For more information about the NCDIT Division of Broadband and Digital Equity or Governor Cooper’s plan to close the digital divide in North Carolina, please visit https://www.ncbroadband.gov.