Plainfield-based Duke Energy Foundation has awarded two grants totaling more than $113,000 to help improve broadband internet access in 15 underserved counties. The foundation says grants include $100,000 for Purdue Center for Regional Development and $13,000 for Indiana Farm Bureau.
Duke Energy says Purdue will use the grant to work with counties to develop “digital inclusion plans” to assess broadband access and needs. The targeted counties will each receive $5,000 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.”
The foundation says counties that are 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.
“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 foundation says it is also supporting the Indiana Rural Broadband Strategic Partnership aimed at strengthening broadband infrastructure throughout Indiana.