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Winrock International

Legacy Project

Arkansas Connectivity Coalition

Funder: Heartland Forward

Project Timeline: June 14, 2022 - November 30, 2023

Country: United States

Program Area: U.S. Programs 

Contact: Michelle Perez,

Broadband connectivity is a critical issue in rural communities, and equitable access to it is vital for community and economic development. Winrock has embedded broadband planning and technical assistance in its rural community development work in Arkansas since 2018. Recognized as a leader in building the capacity of rural communities to better address their broadband needs, Winrock is proud to be a founding member of the Arkansas Connectivity Coalition, convened by Heartland Forward in 2022.

As a part of the Arkansas Connectivity Coalition, Winrock will serve as a mentor for communities in the Accelerate Arkansas program and learn from underserved communities to inform Arkansas’s Digital Skills and Opportunity Plan, a component of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program which allocated over $1 billion to the State of Arkansas to improve access to broadband under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2021. Launched in 2022, Accelerate Arkansas will provide local leadership teams with expert support in developing broadband visions and implementation plans for their communities as new infrastructure dollars are made available through both the federal infrastructure program and the state. The program will help Arkansas communities learn how to plan and use this historic broadband infrastructure funding for community-driven broadband expansion.

The Arkansas State Broadband Office will develop the Digital Skills and Opportunity Plan to outline the state’s vision for empowering Arkansans with the skills, technology and capacity needed to self-determine success in the 21st century digital economy. During 2023, the Arkansas Connectivity Coalition will support development of this plan by facilitating focus groups with underserved communities across the state to learn about their specific barriers to accessing broadband.