JTF provides funding for dedicated broadband director to expand proven model for connecting unserved families.
Grant Amount: $150,000
Generation West Virginia (GWV) attracts, retains, and advances young people in the state through economic and workforce development programming. BroadbandNow ranks West Virginia last in the country for internet access. 34% of West Virginians lack access to broadband service and of those, only 11% have access to affordable service of $60/month or less, compared to the national average of about 8% lacking access and of those 22% accessing affordable service.
GWV has seen how lack of internet access limits opportunities for West Virginians to access remote education and work opportunities in diversified sectors. Building on seed funding from the Benedum Foundation in 2019 and successful catalytic support from JTF in 2021, GWV piloted their model to provide communities with the technical assistance spanning strategic planning, partnership development, and grant writing they need to secure federal broadband funding. To date, their approach has helped local County Commissions, nonprofits, and Economic Development Authorities secure $45 million in federal funding to connect 30,000 households in 15 coal-impacted counties: Kanawha, Fayette, Nicholas, Summers, Lincoln, Mason, Monroe, Raleigh, Boone, Wayne, Logan, Mingo, Pocahontas, Randolph, and Tucker.
In West Virginia, JTF funding and technical assistance will support the hiring of a full-time Broadband Director at GWV and the expansion of this now proven model to leverage federal funds to connect West Virginians with affordable, high speed internet. GWV estimates that in the next year it can expand opportunities for remote work and education by helping the hardest to reach communities secure at least $10 million in federal funding to connect at least 5,000 more households.
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“Broadband connectivity is one of the building blocks for sustainable economic growth in communities across West Virginia. We’ve seen the impact broadband access has firsthand with the people and places we’ve partnered with to get them connected in the last few years. Support from the Just Transition Fund’s Broadband Pilot program will allow Generation West Virginia to build on that success, scale up the programs that are working, and get even more families and communities in our state online quickly.”