The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation has announced a five-year, $25 million initiative to establish digital access centers in the twenty-six U.S. communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. The first grant announced under the initiative, $4.5 million, will go to Cleveland-based OneCommunity, a nonprofit organization dedicated to fostering economic and civic progress through innovative and collaborative applications of information technology.
Designed to help communities develop technology strategies and enable citizens to connect with each other and the world, the initiative includes a $10 million Digital Opportunity fund that will award challenge grants to communities supported by the foundation. The initial grant to OneCommunity will be used to establish the Knight Center of Digital Excellence headquarters in Akron and to design and deploy an eight- to twelve-square-mile wireless universal-access corridor in the city that will leverage the organization's fiber-optic network. OneCommunity will implement the corridor through a public-private partnership, making it eligible for an $800,000 grant from the city over five years.
"More and more in a global economy, we conduct our civic, business, and social activities online," said Paula Ellis, vice president of strategic initiatives for the Knight Foundation. "In every city and town it's important to ensure that no one becomes a second-class citizen because he or she does not have access. Enabling everybody to participate in the digital age has the potential to transform communities."