Duke grants seek to expand broadband internet access
PLAINFIELD — Two Duke Energy Foundation grants totaling more than $113,000 will help improve broadband internet access in underserved areas in 15 Indiana counties.
The Foundation has awarded a grant of $100,000 to the Purdue Center for Regional Development to work with counties to develop “digital inclusion plans” to assess broadband access and needs. The targeted counties will receive $5,000 each to develop the plans.
“Whether it was remote work, distance learning or telehealth, the pandemic reinforced the value of broadband access and highlighted a digital divide between those who have access to the internet and those who do not,” said Stan Pinegar, Duke Energy Indiana state president. “As I visit community leaders and customers in our service area, the urgent need for improved connectivity inevitably comes up. We want to make sure that Indiana can compete in today’s rapidly digitizing economy and society. Internet access has become an essential part of everyday life.
Counties selected will be in Duke Energy’s 69-county Indiana service area and will need to complete an application to the Purdue Center for Regional Development to be considered for participation. Visit https://pcrd.purdue.edu/act to apply.
“Before we can tackle a challenge, we need a road map and resources that show us where needs are and how we can fill the gaps,” said Dr. Roberto Gallardo, director of the Purdue Center for Regional Development. “With the support of the Duke Energy Foundation grant, we can provide the technical assistance that will help local communities develop or implement their plans to address digital exclusion today.”
The Duke Energy Foundation is also supporting the recently announced Indiana Rural Broadband Strategic Partnership aimed at strengthening broadband infrastructure throughout Indiana. The Indiana Farm Bureau and five other organizations are leading the effort that measures how widely broadband is used by citizens.
The initiative encourages residents to participate in the free, anonymous broadband speed test that can be done on any device connected to the internet. No personal information is collected. The information gathered will help direct investments in critical infrastructure that will expand the availability of high-quality internet access across the state. The Duke Energy Foundation grant of approximately $13,000 will help pay for the software involved.