Haywood Community College was recently awarded a $5,000 grant to help bridge the digital divide in the community. The Institute for Emerging Issues (IEI) at NC State University awarded the grant for Building a New Digital Economy in NC (BAND-NC) to HCC and nine additional communities. It is designed to support rapid response community innovation grants and assist communities with digital inclusion plans. 

The BAND-NC grant program will increase the number of people with the internet in their homes, with the goal of making the state “first in digital inclusion.” The effort is in partnership with the NC Broadband Infrastructure Office (BIO), the John M. Belk Endowment, the Atlantic Telephone Membership Corporation, Roanoke Electric Cooperative, the North Carolina Electric Cooperatives and the Duke Energy Foundation. 

 According to data from the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS), 17.3% of Haywood County homes have no computer, and 30.4% have no internet access. A survey conducted by Haywood County Schools in June 2020 found that 37% of their students had no reliable internet service.

The Haywood Community College (HCC) library will use this grant to purchase and activate 10 hotspots for one year. These hotspots will be loaned to HCC students who cannot afford internet access that is required to complete their coursework. This grant will provide many students the option to borrow a hotspot which will provide them a much safer and more convenient means to complete their course work at home.

The College is collaborating with the Haywood County Broadband Committee (HCBC) to formulate a county wide digital inclusion plan to improve access for all Haywood County residents. Representatives from HCC that serve on this committee include Board of Trustees member Dr. Deborah Porto and IT Director George Rolland.

For more information about the student hotspot checkout availability at HCC, please call 828-627-4550.