People-Centered Internet is excited to announce the formation of a new Tribal Resource Center (TRC) to support digital opportunities enabled by broadband connectivity to provide high-speed Internet connections on Tribal lands! This initiative is supported by a grant from the Internet Society Foundation and partners like George Mason University and the Althea company.
Too often, people think of broadband projects only in terms of communications and computers. Community engagement is at least as important as any technology to develop and sustain effective capabilities. This project is special in that it focuses first on people to understand what digital opportunities meet their needs. It starts by listening.
This TRC will provide focused support for Tribal leaders and members seeking to create opportunities through the use of information and communications technologies (ICTs). A key lesson of COVID-19 is that a high-speed Internet connection is not just a nice to have feature, but an essential capability for income, health, and learning. The TRC will be uniquely suited to understanding and addressing the needs of Tribes by keeping them at the center at all steps of the process. It will be run by a Native American director.
The TRC will create training materials that respect Tribal approaches to governance and levels of digital proficiency, connect Tribes with grant applications and other funding opportunities, and provide Tribes with other forms of support as needed. In all of its efforts, the TRC will constantly evaluate the effectiveness of its work and programs, fine-tuning its efforts as needed to create even stronger outcomes.
The TRC will be innovative, unique, and powerful in three key ways: First and foremost, the TRC will be staffed by current Tribal digital leaders and cultivate a strong and trustworthy relationship with Tribes. Second, the TRC will scale and leverage its impact by adopting an approach that seeks to connect Tribes with pre-existing outside resources, such as the 2021 stimulus package and the recently announced Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP), rather than directly funding network builds. Third, the TRC will encourage mentoring and teaching to help sustain and grow the digital opportunities once installed.
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