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Raleigh, NC – The NC Rural Center has received $1 million from the Dogwood Health Trust to expand its Collaborative Broadband Initiative to 18 counties in western North Carolina.

“The timing of this grant could not come at a more important time in North Carolina,” said Patrick Woodie, President and CEO of the Rural Center. “Properly advising and engaging our rural communities and broadband service providers will help assure no one is behind in a globally connected economy.”

“Broadband access has an impact in every one of Dogwood Health Trust’s strategic priority areas – housing, education, economic opportunity and health and wellness,” said Dogwood CEO Dr. Susan Mims. “The issue of access, especially in rural areas, is something that no single organization can address alone, so we are delighted to support the expansion of this collaborative approach in Western North Carolina.”

North Carolina will get $1.5 billion from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NITA) Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program funding. The state is also managing several other initiatives that will improve broadband coverage, digital equity and digital literacy.

“In various partnerships over the next 18 months, the Rural Center will use this grant to expand broadband accessibility and availability,” said Michael Kelly, the Rural Center’s Director of Collaborative Broadband.

“This is the perfect time to bring added capacity to the region for coordinating broadband expansion projects, as there is an historic amount of federal funds available,” said Sarah Thompson, Vice President-Economic Opportunity, Dogwood Health Trust. “The Collaborative Broadband Initiative is focused on helping communities coordinate with internet service providers to successfully access these federal grant funds, and to get broadband to underserved communities in WNC.”

The Rural Center has operated its broadband initiative in 15 counties in northeastern North Carolina since 2022. The program helps with infrastructure mapping, public engagement, developing action teams and action plans and working with last-mile broadband service providers. The work in western North Carolina will begin August 1.

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About the NC Rural Center

The NC Rural Center has worked since 1987 to develop, promote, and implement sound economic strategies to improve the quality of life of rural North Carolinians. The Rural Center serves the state’s 78 rural counties, with a special focus on people with low-to-moderate incomes and communities with limited resources. To learn more about how the NC Rural Center is developing and supporting rural leaders across the state, visit www.ncruralcenter.org