WASHINGTON, D.C. (WVNS) — On Wednesday, January 11, 2023, ARC awarded $6.3 million for a project that will help 50 underserved communities in every sub-region of Appalachia plan for broadband access and growth.

The funding was awarded through ARC’s new Appalachian Regional Initiative for Stronger Economies (ARISE) funding opportunity to Connect Humanity

Working with local partners in 12 states in the Appalachian region—Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Mississippi, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, and West Virginia—Connect Humanity will help communities develop tailored digital equity plans designed to deliver appropriate technology, business, and financing plans necessary to ensure high-speed and affordable internet for all, device access, and digital literacy training. The growing list of project partners include:

A central focus of the project will be to help 50 under-connected communities across Appalachia compete for some of the $45 billion from the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) and Digital Equity Act (DEA) funding later in 2023.

Communities will also benefit from the technical assistance provided as part of the project to put them on a path to digital equity.

“ARC’s first ARISE grant to Connect Humanity has tremendous potential to drive large-scale, regional transformation around broadband access. 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.”

ARC Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin

“President Biden’s Bipartisan infrastructure Law is making sure we don’t leave any community behind as we grow the economy from the bottom up and middle out, especially Appalachia. Under the leadership of Co-Chair Gayle Manchin, ARC is providing critical resources to make sure states are prepared to help connect all of their residents to affordable, reliable high-speed internet.”

Mitch Landrieu, Senior Advisor to the President and White House Infrastructure Coordinator

“Access to affordable, high-speed internet is something every family across Appalachia needs and deserves. This project is another important step to ensuring broadband reaches every American.”

ARC States’ Co-Chair Governor Andy Beshear of Kentucky

“With the U.S. government about to make its biggest ever investment to close the digital divide, it’s critical that the communities that most need support to build better broadband can secure these funds. This program will put 50 communities in Appalachia on the path to getting fast, reliable, affordable internet, serving hundreds of thousands of families and businesses with the connectivity they need to thrive in an increasingly digital world.”

Connect Humanity Program Lead Chris Worman

Appalachian communities can learn more and apply at connecthumanity.fund/arise.