Every year, the Blandin on Broadband blog does County Broadband Profiles (and will do again when the new maps come out) but given federal opportunities are making it possible to get funding for access and adoption, I thought I’d try to present information for counties to assess their digital equity standing (see table below) and give options for who to contact locally for more information.
Kanabec County ranks 33 out of 87 counties for digital equity. Kanabec has been working on improving broadband in the community for a while so there are engaged residents and leaders. One standout ranking (no high school degree rank of 81) might be an opportunity make a compelling case to a funder that using technology could help increase education attainment.
Scroll down for details and suggested resources for more information.
Blandin Foundation is using the Microsoft Digital Equity Tool to determine needs by county and make high level recommendations for next steps to consider based on the data. (With special thanks to Carter Grupp, Broadband Coordinator Broadband Coordinator at American Connection Project for Otter Tail County.) Visit the tool if you want to look up more statistics on your community.
Demographic Data and Ranking (out of 87)
|Access to 100/20||29|
|No HS degree||81|
|Below 150% poverty (last 12 months)||67|
|Below poverty (last 12 months)||37|
|No broadband access||1|
The map below shows digital inequity by census tract. The bluer the better; yellow and orange colors indicate more inequity. This map can be helpful in figuring out which parts of your county need the most help.
So where do you go to talk to people in the county about digit equity plans? Good places to start include:
- New London-Spicer School District (ISD #345)
Superintendent Jamie Boelter
- Willmar School District (ISD #347)
Superintendent Dr. Jeff Holm
Regional Development Commission
- Mid-Minnesota Regional Development Commission
There’s a lot to take in but sometimes it’s also helpful to see what a community has done in the past, so we’ve gathered specific projects funded through the Blandin Foundation:
|Project Owner||Project Name||Description|
|Kandiyohi County & City of Willmar EDC||Connecting with Wi-Fi||Project support to increase Wi-Fi access in Kandiyohi County by installing access points on busses, a mobile daycare center and at the community center|
|Kandiyohi County & City of Willmar EDC||Robust Network Feasibility Study||Project support to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of a new Fiber to the Premise network throughout Kandiyohi County|
|Kandiyohi County & City of Willmar EDC||Willmar Hackfest||Project support to promote and host a hackfest in Willmar|
There’s a lot to take in but sometimes it’s also helpful to see what a community has done in the past, so we’ve gathered specific projects funded through the Blandin Foundation. (Kandiyohi County has participated in multiple Blandin cohorts.):
|Economic Development Commission||Business Website Grant Program||Based on successful previously implemented grant program funded through a “Get Broadband” grant from Blandin Foundation, the EDC will allow businesses to apply for matching funds to develop a first-time website for their business or enhance an existing website to be interactive.|
|New London Spicer School District||Wildcat Nation Connected Classroom||The “Wildcat Nation Connected Classroom” is a high-tech and information-rich environment for students, staff and community members. The project will install a wireless network in the NLS High School and Middle School along with community access computers in designated areas of the building. In addition, funds will provide an iPad lab in the NLS High School and Middle School Media centers, using the technology to allow for individualized instruction and curriculum to meet the needs and skill level of every user. The iPad lab will also be used as a training center for adult learners with curriculum provided by the schools and delivered through Community Education. The lab will serve as a pilot program to measure the effectiveness of iPads for future implementation in schools and the overall education setting.|
|PCs for People Partnership||Computers for Low-income||PCs for People and KandiComp will provide low–cost computers and digital instruction to broadband disadvantaged persons to improve their quality of life and lessen their digital inclusion through Internet accessibility. KandiComp will become a satellite location under PCs for People to receive donated computers, “wipe” existing data from the hard drive, completely refurbish the machine and install new software. The computer will be sold to a guidelines-qualified person or family. Education will be provided. Future repairs will be provided for the PCs for People computers at a low, set price.|
|Willmar Community Senior Network||Senior Network||The Senior Network will demonstrate and assess the potential of using broadband technologies to engage seniors and connect them with their families to better improve their health, safety and quality of life on a daily basis. The project will connect the senior’s family members and the Willmar Community Senior Network by providing an easy to use touch screen, all-in-one PC or notebook computer, webcam, and user support as well as training and broadband access, if needed.|
|MinnWest Technology Campus||Technology Classroom||Provide a remote learning center for a classroom with interactive communication capabilities for distance education courses, training and continuing education programs and video streaming of conferences and presentations.|
|Willmar Women & Family Center||Computer Access for Education and Employment||The Computer Access for Education and Employment Program has been designed to provide new immigrants easy access to computers, broadband Internet and the necessary training on computer, software and Internet usage. The CAEEP will provide a bank of computers in a bi-lingual environment. The Willmar Women & Family Center is a non-political environment where a clan or tribe is not a factor. Through coordination of the curriculum and a strong training program, the existing relationship between the Woman & Family and Workforce center will be enhanced.|