Connecting despite the digital divide

Accelerating Community Digital Transformation Program

A Duke Energy Foundation & Purdue Center for Regional Development Initiative

The Problem

As the 21st century continues, those on the wrong side of the digital divide will struggle more than ever before.

2020 Digital Equity: % Homes with no Internet Access by Income and Neighborhood Type Source: ACS 2016-2020 5.0 $75,000 or more $50,000 - $74,999 $35,000 - $49,999 $20,000 - $34,999 $10,000 - $99,999 Less than $10,000 Indiana Urban Rural 10.0 15.0 20.0 25.0 30.0 35.0 40.0 45.0

The Solution

How can we help? By designing programs engaging local economic development organizations and relevant stakeholders in digital inclusion.

In Action

PCRD and the Duke Energy Foundation did just that with the Accelerating Community Digital Transformation (ACT) program.

The Steps

There were 3 steps to the ACT program accompanied with key resources from PCRD:

  • 1. Technical assistance to produce the plan
  • 2. Funds to implement the plan
  • 3. Impact evaluation to tell the story

The Counties

5 counties, each in different places in their digital inclusion journey, participated in the program. Let’s see how the program adapted to meet each county.

The Breakdown

With the plans in place, it was time to use them! Each county was awarded $15,000 towards implementing their plan. Here’s how they did:

  • Boone
  • Carroll
  • Dearborn
  • Greene
  • Rush

Lessons Learned

So what did we learn from the ACT program? Here are three takeaways that might interest you:

No Community is the Same

As each community have different needs and require different solutions. Programs need to be flexible and recognize local partners for what they are: experts on their community.

Digital Inclusion is a Marathon

It is not a sprint. The rush to close the digital divide during COVID-19 has led to burnout. Patience is key as we shift our mindset.

A Little Money Can Go a Long Way

It can go a long way when combined with local passion. While $15,000 will not make much of an impact in broadband infrastructure, passionate locals can still create lasting impacts.