Stimulus officials seek help in extending super highway into digital darklands

There are people in Colorado and around the country who don’t have access to broadband internet. Worse is that a lot of them, accustomed to their pre-digital lives, see no immediate need for the internet, even though they are increasingly cut off from national cultural and can’t access increasing numbers of basic government offices and businesses. Our fellow citizens are, in some vital respect, inhabitants of a contemporary past, unfamiliar with the things that every day fill the screens of digital life. Our national cultures are less rich and our productivity hampered for their lack of participation.

Writing at the Huffington Post today, Tony Shawcross, executive director of the Open Media Foundation in Denver, urges organizations working to bridge the digital divide to apply to win some of the billions of dollars in second-round stimulus money made available by the Obama administration to expand the nation’s communications infrastructure.


Shawcross encourages nonprofits to apply for the cash. He writes that media corporations who take up the challenge will have different aims. He says they will seek less to underline the relevance of new media to poor people’s lives and the opportunities for expression and innovation and community building it presents, because they will naturally be focused on generating profits by creating expanded advertising bases, for example. In any case, for-profit communications expansion is happening and will happen. Shawcross says nonprofit staff members should know that there are workshops online detailing winning application strategies and websites brimming with information for interested applicants.

A wealth of resources are available in this second round… Review the NOFA2 FAQ’s, and use BroadbandMatch, the invaluable “dating site” developed to help potential applicants find partners and improve their proposals….

Sascha Meinrath of the New America Foundation suggests applicants build alliances and “ensure that they have both the capacity and expertise to craft a competitive application.” With their launch of the Open Technology Initiative, the New America Foundation has developed some of the best tools around to support public interest organizations looking to [take advantage of] this opportunity.

Shawcross wants help “changing the future of our information landscape”! The application period stretches from now until March 15– at 5 p.m. EST.

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