Initiative to help residents with broadband connectivity under way

Published: Aug. 8, 2023 at 4:13 PM EDT
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BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (WVVA) - A town hall meeting in Bluefield Monday evening focused on broadband accessibility and a new initiative to gather information about the needs in the community.

Keith Shoates, with the Student Freedom Initiative based in Washington, said the program is working with communities served by HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) schools to assess the issues related to broadband and start the process of gathering information and sending it to the right agencies.

The program will eventually provide grant dollars to communities and the means to “take advantage of the connectivity” that is available, bridging the “digital divide.”

But the needs in the community must be assessed first and Coates is working with Bluefield State College to gather that information, which is whether residents’ internet connections at home meet their needs.

Part of the initiative also includes digital skills training and workforce development programs.

Coates said it is about “digital opportunity and equity” in communities that have been underserved.

Residents can participate by either scanning a QR code provided by the city and BSU or visit this link to share input.

Coates said another town hall meeting will be scheduled to receive more input from the community and all the information will be sent to Washington before the grant dollars are released to help communities meet the needs that are included in the feedback.