Community Connect, an initiative of the American Library Association (ALA) and Capital One Bank, offers grants and resources to help support digital access and financial capability in rural communities nationwide.
In 2023, The American Library Association (ALA) and Capital One Bank launched Community Connect: Fostering Digital Access, an initiative that provides rural public libraries with resources and support to assist patrons in establishing and sustaining affordable and high-speed home internet connections.
Building off the work from the first phase of Community Connect, Fostering Digital Access will create resources and professional development opportunities linked to the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) and/or other programs geared to connecting people with low incomes to broadband and devices. It will also incorporate financial and digital literacy resources to assist patrons with building the necessary skills to foster sustainable internet access at home.
Digital access is critical to connecting rural communities to opportunity and vital services. Data from the Federal Communications Commission reveals that 22% of Americans in rural areas and 28% of Americans living on tribal lands lack broadband coverage. The recent COVID-19 pandemic has made evident that broadband connectivity is an essential element of a community’s infrastructure. People across the country are increasingly reliant on broadband for the delivery of essential services like education and tele-medicine.
In 2020, ALA and Capital One launched the Community Connect: Digital Access at Home pilot to elevate the stark need for additional investment in broadband for rural areas. 20 public libraries received five Wi-Fi hotspots (including service contract) for lending to patrons; a $2,000 stipend to support implementing financial capability programs; curated book lists and more as part of ALA and Captial One's Community Connect: Digital Access at Home initiative.
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