May 19, 2022
RIHousing Provides Funding to Bridge the Digital Divide
Second round of funding awards broaden access and support digital literacy efforts
Providence, RI – RIHousing today announced a second round of funding awards as part of the agency’s “Bridging the Digital Divide” (Digital Divide) program, which provides financial resources to support projects to increase internet access for low- and moderate-income households across the state. The program provides financial resources to eligible organizations and municipalities in support of initiatives to expand and support internet access and digital literacy.
“We are thrilled to be able to offer a second round of funding awards to further reduce disparities in internet access, which can have adverse economic and social consequences on Rhode Islanders,” said Carol Ventura, Executive Director of RIHousing. “While there are a number of existing initiatives to help bridge the digital divide, there are still many residents who cannot afford adequate and long-term internet access. Too many low- and moderate-income households cannot access high-speed internet at home, resulting in barriers to their ability to access critical resources and information.”
In January 2021, RIHousing announced its initial round of Digital Divide Funds and awarded $250,000 in program funds to four applicants in May of last year. The agency issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for a second round of Digital Divide funding in December 2021. Available funding for the second round totaled $450,000. RIHousing received 10 proposals in response to the RFP from 10 applicants representing housing developers, property owners and managers, and public housing authorities. Funding requested totaled $494,594.21.
With this second round of funding, the agency sought proposals that will provide low-and-moderate income Rhode Island residents with long-term, high-speed access to the internet to empower Rhode Islanders all across the state to take advantage of new opportunities and compete in the knowledge economy.
“We were excited with the variety and creativity of funding applicants in helping to bridge the digital divide for Rhode Islanders,” said James Comer, Deputy Director, RIHousing. “Our Digital Divide Fund represents RIHousing’s commitment to helping Rhode Islanders and complements existing initiatives from cable providers, the state, and non-profit community to provide tablets and hot spots and improve internet use and digital literacy.”
Many existing resources are earmarked to help build the infrastructure for high-speed internet, and typically cannot be used to pay for internet access. RIHousing’s Digital Divide program provides funding for organizations to provide or expand free or low-cost internet access to Rhode Islanders.
Award recipients of the second round of Digital Divide funding proposed a variety of initiatives, including free WiFi for affordable housing residents, updated hardware and devices and digital literacy training.
Funding recipients include:
- AS220: an arts non-profit located in downtown Providence; $39,480 to update their internet technology and provide one year of free internet for residents, who are artists and creative workers. Thirty-nine of their 49 units are designated as affordable.
- The Canning Group: a property management company; $29,959.21 to provide devices and internet to community rooms at four developments: Fox Point Manor in Providence; Canonchet Cliffs I & II and Canonchet Hills in Hopkinton.
- Central Falls Housing Authority: public housing authority of the city of Central Falls; $75,000 to assist public housing residents and housing choice voucher recipients, along with community members, in signing up for discounted internet plans.
- Church Community Housing Corporation: a community development corporation serving Newport County; $18,469 to provide 44 hotspots and 3 years of unlimited internet service at 44 properties, including 33 scattered site and 11 multifamily developments.
- Crossroads Rhode Island: statewide housing and homeless service provider; $61,940 for hardware, labor and installation of technology for in-unit internet at the Summer Street I & II developments.
- Fifty Square L.P.: Sponsored by Church Community Housing Corporation; $20,000 for the installation of access points for free wireless internet at 50 Washington Square, a low-income tax credit development in Newport.
- McAuley Ministries: non-profit providing social services and housing; $56,765.79 to provide internet access in each unit and common areas, as well as a computer, monitor and printer in each unit. This grant will support residents living at McAuley Village, a transitional housing program for homeless families led by women experiencing domestic and/or sexual violence.
- POAH, Inc.: a nonprofit housing developer; $75,000 for start-up costs toward providing free internet to all units at Oxford Place & Gardens in Providence.
- Providence Housing Authority: housing authority of the city of Providence; $73,386 to provide internet access to community rooms at seven developments.107 residents of high-rise developments, or participants in the PHA’s Workforce Development and Training Program, will receive devices, internet access and digital literacy training.
RIHousing works to ensure that all people who live in Rhode Island can afford a healthy, attractive home that meets their needs. RIHousing provides loans, grants, education and assistance to help Rhode Islanders find, rent, buy, build and keep a good home. Created by the General Assembly in 1973, RIHousing is a self-sustaining corporation and receives no state funding for operations. For more information regarding RIHousing, visit RIHousing.com or follow us @RIHousing on Facebook and Twitter.