The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) and the AEP Ohio Foundation have awarded over $40,000 to support nonprofit and public organizations working to expand community WIFI access points in communities across Appalachian Ohio.
Among the grantees was the Greenfield Exempted Village School District, which received funding to install access points in two school parking lots, creating opportunities for connectivity among the 30 percent of families in the district who do not have access to strong internet connections.
By allowing an expansion of community WIFI access points, this funding opportunity aims to increase access to connectivity during this critical period of the COVID-19 pandemic while also creating a long-term community benefit that can support additional opportunities.
Appalachian Ohio faces a digital divide that has created particular challenges for communities throughout the transition to remote learning and greater dependence on other virtual services. As of 2016, only 68 percent of Appalachian Ohio households had a broadband connection, compared to 78 percent of households in Ohio’s non-Appalachian counties.
Fourteen organizations received funding to support the installation of community WIFI access points, which will be complete early this fall to meet community WIFI needs during the 2020-2021 school year.
“Internet connectivity has been a major barrier in Appalachian Ohio for far too long,” said Foundation for Appalachian Ohio President and CEO Cara Dingus Brook. “We’re very grateful for AEP Ohio’s partnership in tackling this critical need, and we look forward to continuing to work together to advance digital equity. It’s essential that we realize the day when everyone in Appalachian Ohio has access to the internet.”
The Foundation for Appalachian Ohio partners with the Highland County Community Fund in its work to create opportunities for Appalachian Ohio’s citizens and communities. To learn more about FAO’s ongoing work to increase internet connectivity across Appalachian Ohio or to learn how you can support this work, visit www.AppalachianOhio.org or contact the foundation at 740-753-1111.
Submitted by Daniel Kington, communications and programs associate, Foundation for Appalachian Ohio.