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Bridging the Digital Divide: How Cities like Fort Collins Are Expanding Broadband Access

Despite the popular image of our world as a globally-online village, the digital divide—that gap between those who have easy access to computers and the internet and those who do not—remains a formidable barrier in many urban and rural areas. While access to fast, reliable internet service in these communities is still a luxury rather than a given, the digital nature of our world has only increased over time, resulting in inequality over educational opportunities, access to healthcare, and economic development. However, cities across the nation are rising to meet this challenge, leveraging innovative strategies and new funding sources to expand broadband access.

Innovative City Strategies for Broadband Expansion

Many cities are closing the gap by taking proactive steps to address broadband inequity, and one of the most impactful of these strategies is the development of public broadband networks. For example, Fort Collins, Colorado, established its own municipal broadband service, Connexion, to provide high-speed, reliable internet service to targeted communities. This project, funded in part through local government initiatives and federal grants, aims to offer competitive rates and top-tier service to ensure all citizens can access digital resources.

Finding and Securing Grants for Broadband Expansion

But the money must come from somewhere, and federal grants are a common source for municipal governments. As a result, navigating the vast landscape of available funding is a critical first step for cities looking to expand their broadband infrastructure, particularly given the significant amounts of funding available in recent years. And while these grants can come from a variety of places—including federal agencies, state governments, and private foundations, typically earmarked specifically for technological improvements and infrastructure expansion—the process of finding and applying for them can be time-consuming.

Rather than navigating multiple sites, cities can access the Euna Grants Network, which consolidates an extensive range of grant opportunities into a single platform. Euna Grants not only lists available grants but also provides tools to help cities apply for and manage these funds effectively, enabling city officials to find and secure the necessary funding for broadband projects.

Partnering with numerous leaders in this space, including Bloomberg Philanthropies and the National League of Cities, the Local Infrastructure Hub is a collaborative tool designed to support local governments in managing grant processes effectively. It includes the Opportunity Finder, powered by Euna Grants’ network, to help cities access funding as well as resources and training for submitting competitive grant applications. Building digital infrastructure through initiatives like this is key for minimizing the digital divide.

The Need for Grant Management

With the influx of federal and state grants—especially from pandemic relief funds and infrastructure bills—managing these resources efficiently is more critical than ever. This is where advanced grant management tools like Euna Grants come into play.

Euna Grants offers a robust platform designed to streamline the entire grant management lifecycle. From researching potential grant opportunities to applying, tracking, and reporting on grant usage, Euna Grants ensures that cities can maximize their funding effectiveness. The platform’s powerful features also help grant managers maintain compliance with governmental regulations and reporting requirements, a crucial factor in sustaining funding over time.

Cities tackling the digital divide now have both the challenge and the opportunity to transform their communities. By leveraging innovative approaches and effective grant management tools, they can ensure that every citizen gains access to the digital tools necessary for success in the 21st century.

 

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