RAMS, Koochiching and Itasca Counties ask residents to take the broadband speed test and spread the word!

An announcement and invitation from the partners…

TAKE THE TEST and SHARE THE LINK https://expressoptimizer.net/public/

Koochiching and Itasca County in partnership with the Range Association of Municipalities & Schools (RAMS) is pleased to announce the formal public kickoff of a crowdsourcing project covering the entire areas of both counties. This broadband speed testing initiative is being conducted by GEO Partners, LLC during a time when more people are at home per the Governor’s “Stay at Home” directive. This includes over 10,000 students (K-12) as well as parents required to work from home and thus should provide the most comprehensive, accurate accumulation of actual broadband speeds ever conducted in these counties while demand on the system is highest.

The data collected via a one minute speed test can be conducted from any device connected to your broadband signal including cell phones and will result in statistically valid data and mapping. This data will then enable any locale in Koochiching or Itasca County to utilize the validated information for a broadband expansion project and seek grant funding from the FCC, USDA or Border to Border state program. We anticipate a higher than normal volume of participation, partially because of all the students who are struggling to stay connected to their E Learning while living in rural areas in the county.  Collecting data from cabin owners across our lake enhanced counties will also be vitally important data.

Representative Rob Ecklund a Koochiching County resident and the chief author of a bill for broadband funding praised both Itasca and Koochiching County boards for their support of this project as he knows all too well how living without quality high speed broadband makes life more challenging.  Representative Sandy Layman from Itasca County took the speed test this morning and expressed how simple and quick the test was.  “My results were interesting as my download speed was almost half as much as the upload speed, so I will take the test again”, she stated.

School districts in both counties have already been contacted and asked to send a message to their students to “Take the Test” and help jumpstart these projects.  Both counties will ask county employees to participate; local businesses and social media will play an important role in getting the message out throughout both counties.  Koochiching Technology Initiative and Blandin Broadband will both play important roles in keeping the momentum going as the speed tests will likely run for 8 to 12 weeks.

RAMS, as an organization has been a strong advocate for broadband expansion across Northeastern Minnesota.  RAMS’ and the Commissioners of your counties, recognize that high speed quality broadband is a critical utility to economic development, education, business and virtual healthcare.  RAMS is grateful for the partnership with Koochiching & Itasca County on this project and encourages everyone to TAKE THE TEST and SHARE THE LINK https://expressoptimizer.net/public/   TAKE IT NOW! Your participation is important and no personal information will be collected.

Maps of the County speed tests will be accessible on the RAMS website: https://expressoptimizer.net/projects/Koochiching/speedtestmap.php


Pro Bono Consulting for K-12 Districts from NDIA list

I wanted to share two free resources today. First the NDIA (National Digital Inclusion Alliance), if you don’t know then, is …

a unified voice for home broadband access, public broadband access, personal devices and local technology training and support programs. We work collaboratively to craft, identify and disseminate financial and operational resources for digital inclusion programs while serving as a bridge to policymakers and the general public.

They have a listserv that is particularly useful for ideas for practitioners, researchers and policy wonks.

From that list, I learned about the following opportunity. I don’t know much about the group making the offer – but seemed like a deal worth sharing…

The Learning Accelerator – a national nonprofit – recently launched a large-scale, FREE coaching network that brings together some of the nation’s top expert consulting organizations to offer school districts rapid, customized, and sustained guidance on how to successfully shift to remote learning and prepare for instruction in the fall and beyond. The Always Ready For Learning Network includes the following coaching partners (with more being added soon): 2Revolutions, Afton Partners, Catalyst:Ed, Highlander Institute, InnovateEDU, ISTE, KnowledgeWorks, LINC, PowerMyLearning, and Transcend.

OPPORTUNITY: Foundation for Rural Service Community Grant Program

From RHIhub

Foundation for Rural Service Community Grant Program

Sponsor: Foundation for Rural Service
Deadlines: Sep 13, 2020

The Foundation for Rural Service Community Grant Program provides funding for projects in rural communities served by the National Telecommunications Cooperative Association (NTCA) members.

Funds may be used for:

  • Business and Economic Development: Entrepreneurship and job creation programs
  • Community Development: Outreach programs that promote technology learning and innovation or that encourage rural development through arts and tourism
  • Education: Education technology (such as computers and smart boards), extracurricular activities, and distance learning programs
  • Telecommunications Applications: Promoting the implementation and use of broadband-enabled applications for telehealth, education, government services, safety and security, and efficient energy distribution and use

OPPORTUNITY: Dakota County RFQ to complete fiber network project

From Dakota County, looks like a good project for someone and good news for some residents…

Fiber Optic Network – Pilot Knob & I-494 Gap

​Dakota County is seeking bids from qualified contractors to complete a fiber optic network project in the Pilot Knob Road and Interstate 494 area.

Bids due: June 5 at 2 p.m.

Send bids to:
Dakota County Information Technology Department
Attention: Dan Ferber
1590 Highway 55
Hastings, MN 55033

Applications are open for the 2020 NTEN Digital Inclusion Fellowship

Another great opportunity for the right person – a fellowship with NTEN

Launched in 2015 in partnership with Google Fiber, the Digital Inclusion Fellowship builds capacity and leadership in nonprofits to address digital inequity in their communities. Fellows join a year-long, project-based, professional development cohort. They create and implement ambitious projects to increase opportunities for adults in their communities to learn essential digital skills and will receive grants to help launch their programs.

Previous fellows have implemented impressive and groundbreaking projects. Emma Hernandez, a fellow in San Antonio, launched a hotspot lending program that allows library patrons to bring their connectivity home. She also developed a volunteer program that supported 200 library patrons in connecting with workforce resources. Felicia Tillman, a fellow from Atlanta, formed partnerships to bring digital literacy training to uniquely sweet spaces. You can read more about past fellows’ projects (and get inspired to start your own!) in our Digital Inclusion Toolkit, program fact sheets, and blog.

Learn more

  1. Read full details about the application process and the required commitment
  2. Read about the experiences of the 2019 fellows in their own words
  3. RSVP for a free video call with me on Tuesday, May 19, at 11 PT, to learn more and ask questions

We are deeply grateful to Google Fiber, the Cleveland Foundation, and Meyer Memorial Trust, our Cohort 6 sponsors, for their commitment to digital equity and supporting the Digital Inclusion Fellowship.

Application deadline May 10 for Congressional Digital Service Fellowship in DC

This looks like an amazing opportunity to go to DC and help them make better use of technology through the Congressional Digital Service Fellowship – the deadline is May 10…

The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed Congress into a remote and virtual institution literally overnight. Capitol Hill was not prepared for this moment and is now confronting a number of urgent digital challenges.

We are looking to immediately recruit a small collaborative tech team for an eight month fellowship to help Congress manage this critical moment. 

You can read more about our fellowship strategy on our blog.

To date, TechCongress has sent 29 technologists to Congress to serve with offices including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), Senate Majority Whip John Thune (R-SD), Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the Senate Homeland Security Committee and the House Oversight Committee.

The current challenges in Congress include:

  • Lack of effective technical infrastructure for continuity of the institution (e.g. no platform for digital signatures or electronic bill introduction) and lack of adoption and approval of remote tools (e.g Slack, Microsoft Teams, other video conferencing).

  • Security concerns, including inconsistent use of tools and member and staff reliance on personal devices and unsupported messaging platforms.

  • Lack of expertise to test and support potential longer-term modernization tools/processes/solutions, including video-based committee hearings, virtual staff briefings, and remote voting.

In response to the urgent need for digital expertise, TechCongress is launching a Congressional Digital Service Fellowship, modeled on parts of the United States Digital Service.  This is a limited term fellowship– an eight month sprint– in order to:

  • Meet the immediate need for technical talent to help modernize the digital infrastructure of the Congress.

  • Capitalize on the opportunity to galvanize the institution to build a Congressional Digital Service within the institution,  including by helping implement recommendations from the House Select Committee on Modernization.

Fellows will be paid a competitive stipend, consistent with tech team salaries in the executive branch like the Presidential Innovation Fellowship, as well as reimbursements for health care, relocation to Washington, D.C. and any necessary travel.

OPPORTUNITY: MHTA STEM Scholarship Application open until May 15

MN High Tech Association reports…

The application period for the MHTA Foundation 2020 scholarships is open until May 15th.

We will be announcing the 2020 STEM Scholarship winners at the Tekne Awards on Nov. 18, 2020.

The scholarships are for Minnesota undergraduate students in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) disciplines.

These awards include $2,500 and $5,000 awards and can include internship opportunities at MHTA member companies. MHTF supports diversity in this application and award process.

Eligibility Requirements:

  • Must be pursuing an undergraduate degree in a STEM field or in STEM teaching
  • Only students with sophomore through senior academic status in the current school year may apply. Sophomore status may include students who have achieved this status through advanced placement (AP) credit or post-secondary options (PSEO)s
  • Applicants must be enrolled at an accredited, Minnesota-based higher education institution.
  • Scholarships will be awarded in the fall term of 2020 and presented to recipients at MHTA’s Tekne Awards in November. Students must be enrolled at time of award.

Special Circumstances:

  • In addition to traditional STEM fields, health science majors whose studies will NOT lead to participation in direct patient care are welcome to apply.
  • The scholarship is open to international students, but preference is given to students who intend to work in Minnesota after graduation.
  • Past scholarship winners are eligible to re-apply as long as they meet the rest of the requirements listed here.