Rural Small Grants Available to Deploy Broadband-Based Solutions
Local leaders can collaborate and get grant funding for broadband-based solutions that improve the strength of rural communities.
Applications are now being accepted for the Smart Rural Community (SRC) Collaboration Challenge, which is a grant program focused on broadband-based solutions to local issues through collaboration between rural broadband providers and community leaders.
Broad Topics for Broadband-Based Solutions
The grant can be used for a variety of different projects that range in categories from digital access to public health, technology and education. The SRC also puts an emphasis on collaboration between local leaders and providers for broadband-based solutions, noting that the most successful proposals seek to strengthen community ties and solve problems together.
One of the most notable uses of the grant is to create public Wi-Fi networks in community areas that allow for free Internet access to citizens. The Pineland Telephone Cooperative, Inc., in Metter, Georgia, was awarded nearly $5,000 in 2017 to support a public Wi-Fi network in a central community park. Waitsfield and Champlain Valley Telecom in Waitsfield, Vermont, was awarded $5,000 in 2015 to partner with more than 100 local businesses and provide a public Wi-Fi network.
2018 SRC winners
This year's recipients focused heavily on education advancement and security goals. The 2018 grant recipients include:
- Consolidated Telecommunications Co. in Brainerd, Minnesota, used the grant to provide a classroom with the capability to explore science-related geographic locations around the world through virtual reality.
- GRM Networks in Princeton, Missouri, plans to use the grant to support a "business incubator facility" as a training tool for high school students, staffed by senior citizen volunteers.
- Panhandle Telephone Cooperative, Inc. in Guymon, Oklahoma, will use the grant to install an HD surveillance and security system at a 32-acre park, which will also include Wi-Fi.
- Star Communications in Clinton, North Carolina, used the grant to support the implementation of digital literacy and interactive learning programs for preschool children.
A funds match is required by the recipients.
Proposals for consideration in 2019 were due Dec. 1, but broadband providers are eligible to apply throughout the year.