The Bell Charitable Foundation is investing $1 million to improve digital equity in the communities it serves over the next five years. The vehicle for this is a grant program targeted to organizations focused on expanding access to broadband internet.
The foundation is making the grants available in the midwestern part of the United States and Hawaii, where it also supports organizations working in areas such as economic mobility, technology, sustainability and health.
Altafiber – formerly known as Cincinnati Bell in Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana – created the Bell Charitable Foundation last year. To date, the foundation has provided more than $400,000 in grants to 23 organizations.
Christi Cornette, chief administrative officer of altafiber and a foundation board member, called creating digital equity a “natural focus area” given her company’s work. She described the effort as benefiting “our current and future partner organizations and those they serve.”
“Broadband Internet is essential in order for individuals across all demographics to access education, employment, and healthcare opportunities,” Cornette added.
One of the organizations expected to benefit from Bell Charitable Foundation’s investment is 1N5, a Cincinnati-based nonprofit that promotes mental health for students K-12 and in college.
Nancy Eigel-Miller, who founded 1N5, said she believes the foundation’s commitment to digital equity will directly support her organization’s mission. Having strong internet connectivity is “so important” to mental wellness – whether it’s through the accessibility of online tools to find a provider or simply staying connected with friends and family, she said.
“Increased connectivity in our communities will help 1N5 to impact the mental health of even more individuals across Greater Cincinnati and beyond,” Eigel-Miller added.
Over the years, altafiber has invested more than $2 billion into expanding its fiber network across the Greater Cincinnati region and Dayton, as well as Hawaii, where the company does business as Hawaiian Telcom.