Truist Foundation has announced it has awarded a $10 million grant to Connect Humanity, a nonprofit focused on advancing digital equity among historically marginalized communities. The grant will be used to strengthen Connect Humanity’s current efforts in providing financing, tools, training and network builds to eliminate the digital divide. As more organizations and individuals adopt fully remote and digital work, the digital divide continues to expand, and barriers to entry deepen because of it. This Truist Foundation grant serves as an opportunity to advance the internet connectivity space and provide affordable and accessible training and networks for underconnected communities.
“Following previous grants and partnerships with organizations such as Internet Society, Truist Foundation understands the commitment that’s required to eliminate this digital divide. Therefore, in addition to providing this $10 million grant, we’ve also established an ongoing partnership with Connect Humanity to eradicate this systemic injustice and allow communities to stabilize, revitalize and prepare for the future of the digital economy,” said Lynette Bell, president of Truist Foundation. “This active partnership brings the best of philanthropy and finance to this cause, providing underserviced and marginalized communities with access and training in broadband technology, which given our growing digital world, is in many ways a basic human right.”
More than 30% of African, Hispanic and rural Americans are not connected to the internet. With a rise in remote jobs and new openings posted almost exclusively online, it’s hard to imagine a modern business succeeding without building a website or applying for loans and permits on the internet. Ultimately, a digital economy only exists for those connected to it. Disproportionately, low-income families, rural residents and communities of color are being left behind.
This grant will help lay the groundwork for Connect Humanity’s plan to expand existing models that increase local ownership of the internet within communities. As a result, communities supported by this investment will experience higher speed internet at lower prices, and local ownership and operation will ensure the network benefits the community, expanding economic opportunity for all.
“We’re committed to ensuring communities have the resources they need to break out of the cycle of digital poverty and achieve digital equity,” said Chris Worman, co-founder, chief partnership and strategy officer of Connect Humanity. “This grant allows us to begin partnerships that have the potential to support at least 100 communities, improving connectivity for at least 5 million historically underconnected Americans and spurring roughly $500 million in economic opportunity; while creating at least 1,000 jobs in network engineering and maintenance.”
Additionally, with this grant, Connect Humanity will invest in building the skills of low-income communities to help them establish and operate their own infrastructure, in turn creating economic opportunity and mobility. This comprehensive approach focusing on infrastructure, affordability, digital skills, content and policy changes will help eliminate the digital divide.