CHS contributes $50,000 to support improved internet connectivity and digital inclusion
The American Connection Corps will help young leaders bring broadband access to rural communities.
CHS is joining 19 organizations to launch the American Connection Corps, a program connecting young leaders to their hometowns and empowering them to become a new class of community leaders focused on increasing internet connectivity in rural areas.
According to the latest Federal Communications Commission (FCC) report, 14.5 million Americans lack broadband access, 11 million of whom live in rural America. However, some experts think that number might be twice as high; according to a 2020 BroadbandNow study, an estimated 42 million Americans lack access to broadband internet.
CHS is contributing $50,000 to the effort, which will place promising young leaders in two-year, paid, full-time fellowships to increase digital access and inclusion in their communities. Fellows will help increase broadband access and digital literacy in rural communities so that residents have access to better education, health and economic opportunities that come with digital connectivity.
“Access to broadband is essential for the success of farmers, ranchers, cooperatives and rural communities. Living in a rural area should not limit opportunities for connectivity and access to data and digital infrastructure that help build ag businesses and enrich lives," says Jay Debertin, president and CEO of CHS. "We're proud to support the American Connection Corps to improve internet accessibility to help strengthen rural communities."
Through support from CHS, Land O’Lakes, Lead for America, CoBank, American Farm Bureau, Heartland Forward and other agriculture and technology organizations, 50 American Connection Corps Fellows will serve across 12 states in a two-year pilot initiative. The pilot includes training from higher education institutions and mentoring for young community members to start businesses, nonprofits and community groups that address local needs with an explicit focus on diversity, equity and inclusion. The inaugural class will be deployed in rural and urban communities in Minnesota, Nebraska, Kansas, Oregon, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee, Arkansas, Kentucky, Georgia and Alabama.
Individuals interested in applying for the American Connection Corps can do so on Lead for America’s website by selecting the ACC track. The deadline to apply is May 15, 2021. The inaugural class of ACC Fellows will be announced in early June 2021.