In Maine, a high quality of life increasingly is connected to being connected. High-speed internet service increases Mainers’ ability to access a variety of resources related to their health, education, civic and social engagement, and economic prosperity.
Unfortunately, basic broadband is not available in many rural areas or the available speed of available Internet connections is inadequate for a range of important uses. Even more important, many Mainers do not recognize the value in having a high-speed Internet connection. When individuals and communities don’t see the value in high-speed Internet access, it’s less likely that communities, providers, and elected officials will make the necessary investments in such infrastructure, leaving Maine lagging behind the nation and the world in its ability to attract new people and businesses to the state and to grow and prosper in an increasingly connected world.
The goal of the Maine Community Foundation’s Community Broadband Grant Program is to increase the number of people, communities, and businesses in Maine that have access to high-speed Internet service as well as the skills, opportunities, and knowledge to use the technology effectively. This includes supporting efforts to create and/or sustain working groups among communities, nonprofits, and towns and municipalities; increase community members’ computer and internet knowledge and skills; remove barriers and create equitable opportunities to Internet technology and access; and develop and increase the knowledge and expertise of both communities at large and local and regional leadership with respect to these issues.
Priority will be given to projects that support and involve traditionally underserved people, including older people, low-income families and children, students, people of color, small businesses and entrepreneurs; represent catalytic projects or moments in time; explore creative solutions, pilot projects or new strategies that can be replicated or used as a model by other communities and regions; leverage or provide a match for other funding sources; identify technology that anticipates future needs and won’t be obsolete in five to ten years; include goals and/or strategies to increase digital literacy, inclusion, and equity; demonstrate community commitment through financial and other meaningful support; and/or identify short- and long-term goals (separate from specific technology and costs).
The program has been designed to accommodate a range of potential projects that address digital skills, knowledge and opportunities, and high-speed access and expansion; it will not support capital campaigns or endowments.
In 2021, a dozen or so grants of up to $15,000 will be awarded through the program.
Online applications must be submitted by 11:59 p.m. on August 1. Notification of decisions will be made in early October.
For more information, see the Maine Community Foundation website.