Closing in on Equity: Truist EPIC Grant Seeks to Expand Potential in Communities through Broadband Access Thumbnail
Community Networks 25 January 2021

Closing in on Equity: Truist EPIC Grant Seeks to Expand Potential in Communities through Broadband Access

By Mark BuellFormer Regional Vice President - North America

The image was shared around the world.­ Two little girls hunched over their laptops on a concrete sidewalk, accessing the free WiFi at a fast-food restaurant in order to complete their schoolwork. It was a bleak reminder of the stark digital divide in the United States, where millions are excluded from the benefits of affordable, reliable broadband service. In urban, suburban, and rural areas alike, 42 million Americans – 12% of the population – are on the wrong side of this divide, exacerbating inequalities in access to education, employment, and healthcare.

Conquering this digital divide calls for meaningful solutions, vision, and commitment. Truist has stepped up to the plate with an innovative new grant program that puts the power of connection in the hands of the people who stand to benefit from it. For the over 15 million Americans across the Southeast United States who lack adequate Internet access, broadband coverage cannot wait.

In partnership with Truist, the Internet Society is proud to announce the launch of the Truist EPIC Grant. The program is aimed at funding community-backed broadband – solutions that can help alleviate socioeconomic disparities exacerbated by lack of access.

The Truist EPIC Grant offers eligible diverse, low-income communities the opportunity to connect their households, hospitals, schools, and entire communities themselves by funding their own broadband networks. Up to seven grants ranging between $125,000 and $180,000 will support community networks in the Southeast United States, including Washington, D.C. and Texas. The Internet Society, which has a long history of working with communities worldwide to fund, build, and train people with the skills needed to run and maintain community networks, will distribute the $1 million Truist grant.

Community networks present an innovative solution for communities left behind by traditional ISPs. Partially owned and operated by the community, for the community, this approach is often the fastest, most affordable, and efficient way to bring quality broadband to undeserved areas. From Argentina to Zimbabwe, community-run broadband has proven to be one of the best ways to bridge the digital divide. But the funding to get a community network off the ground is a common hurdle. By creating EPIC Grants, Truist helps communities leapfrog over this obstacle, enabling empowering and sustainable solutions.

Nearly one year since the U.S. experienced its first COVID-19 case, a clear lesson from the pandemic stands out: broadband access is essential. Truist’s commitment to broadband for all shows that an equitable digital future is possible.

By partnering with the Internet Society, Truist is doing more than enabling access to the Internet. They are enabling access to opportunity, empowerment, and hope.

Learn more about partnerships and how you can help bridge digital divide.

Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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