Blandin Broadband Communities named
Two-year partnerships provide planning, organizing support for high-speed Internet work in nine rural Minnesota communities
DULUTH, MINN—Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012—Blandin Foundation announced today at its annual broadband conference in Duluth that it has selected nine rural Minnesota communities for intensive, two-year partnerships with the Foundation to advance local broadband initiatives.
Fond du Lac Band of Chippewa, Itasca County, Kanabec County, Lake County, Southwest Minnesota Broadband Services, Lake of the Woods County Economic Development Agency, Lac qui Parle Valley School District, Mille Lacs County and Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe all have been successful in leading their communities’ bids to become Blandin Broadband Communities.
Following on the success of the Blandin Foundation-administered, federally funded Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC) demonstration projects, the newly minted Blandin Broadband Communities program provides planning and organizing support to regions that demonstrate readiness and resources to either bring robust broadband adoption to communities without it, or assist already connected communities to make the best use of information and services broadband can deliver.
“Broadband is a community imperative,” said Dr. Kathy Annette, Blandin Foundation CEO. “Vibrant, resilient communities depend on abundant and robust access to the Internet, and the digital literacy skills necessary for everyone to take full advantage of this access.”
Blandin Broadband Communities assemble diverse, local leadership teams from key institutions and representing underserved populations. They commit to defining technology goals, measuring current levels of broadband access and use, engage the broader community, and promote opportunities such as training and refurbished PCs. Ultimately, Blandin Broadband Communities design and drive initiatives that position their communities and every resident for greater success.
“We’ve been doing broadband work for 10 years, and know that communities have to tackle themselves the tough issues related to broadband access and use—there is no substitute for local leadership,” said Bernadine Joselyn, director of Blandin Foundation’s broadband initiative. “We also know how complex this work can be, and work to match community resources and vision with technical resources, grants, connections to peer communities and steady support.
“Effective partnerships and local leadership can release the power of shared ideas, resources and experiences, and allow us to do together what we can’t do alone.”
Blandin Foundation announced in 2012 the two-year, $1.5 million renewal of its commitment to rural broadband initiatives in line with its Expanding Opportunities area of focus. In addition to the Blandin Broadband Community program, any rural Minnesota community will have access to a series of broadband project matching grants and technical resources beginning in 2013. Application details will be available at the Foundation’s website in December.