The digital divide has never been as glaringly apparent—or critical—as it is now, with so many households, especially in rural areas, lacking the connectivity and technology that enables parents to work from home and students to do their school work remotely. Ordering household supplies, consulting with doctors, connecting with friends and relatives—all the online connections we now rely on for daily living—are out of reach.
Thanks to a $5 million grant from Truist, LISC will address the evolving needs of small businesses, nonprofit organizations, and families impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the related economic downturn. This partnership will help hundreds of businesses and nonprofits sustain operations as well as bridge the digital divide that prevents millions of people from accessing quality jobs and educational opportunities. These efforts will promote sustained relief and recovery in urban and rural communities across America.
What are we offering?
Small business support
- Grants of up to $10,000 each to small business owners, especially in rural communities and to enterprises owned by women and minorities, to help meet their most immediate needs. Eligible expenses include:
- Rent and utilities
- Outstanding debt to vendors
- Technology infrastructure upgrades
- Other immediate operational costs
- Technical assistance to help small businesses weather the current crisis and plan for a sustainable future. This includes tips on how to navigate federal, state and local assistance programs as well as private funding sources, in addition to a program to help businesses assess and adapt to a new business environment.
Access to technology and broadband
- Cash grants of up to $250 each to households to purchase laptops/tablets, set up and pay for internet, or address other urgent technology needs.
- Teams of “digital navigators” to help families maximize internet access, including signing up for subsidies/benefits; basic troubleshooting; and enrolling in computer skills programs.
- Grants to nonprofit organizations to upgrade technology infrastructure to deliver services remotely.
- Technical assistance to connect areas of density (housing developments, senior centers, etc.) to existing broadband infrastructure and to use satellite service to provide Wi-Fi in rural communities without connectivity.
Who is eligible?
The LISC-Truist partnership will target urban and rural communities in the following 15 states and Washington, DC:
- New Jersey
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
- West Virginia
For the small business support, priority will be given to women- and minority-owned businesses, which often lack access to flexible, affordable capital. At least 60% of the grants will support enterprises in rural communities.
For technology and broadband access, strong emphasis will be placed on supporting households and nonprofit organizations located in rural counties with persistent poverty.
What is next?
The small business grant application opens the first week of June. Please register here to get information on the application process.
Before applying, please review the grant information and FAQ here.