Bridging the digital divide: $1.7M in grants to improve web access for low-income Rhode Islanders


NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — More than 20% of Rhode Island households have little to no access to the internet, according to Gov. Dan McKee’s office, so local leaders are looking to change that.

On Tuesday, McKee announced $1.7 million in grants will be awarded to several communities to increase internet access for low- and moderate-income families.

McKee said 12.2% of households (almost 50,000 families) are not connected to the internet, while another 8.6% only have access through a smartphone data plan.

The announcement follows President Joe Biden signing the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill into law, which includes $65 billion for national broadband access. McKee said Rhode Island may receive more than $100 million for that purpose.

“Today’s awards will help Rhode Islanders better access reliable and affordable high-speed internet and the valuable resources it provides,” McKee said. “This funding will complement additional awards and investments that will be made in this area in the near future, and I thank President Biden and our federal delegation for their continued support of this important funding.”

The grants announced Tuesday are funded by Community Development Block Grants and managed by the R.I. Office of Housing and Community Development, according to McKee.

The winning communities and proposed projects were selected through a request for proposal process, and are as follows:

  • City of East Providence: Up to $367,000
  • City of Newport: Up to $980,000
  • City of Providence: Up to $99,000
  • Domestic Violence Resource Center: Up to $4,200
  • Forest Farm Assisted Living/Town of Middletown: Up to $20,000
  • NeighborWorks Blackstone River Valley: Up to $92,500
  • North Providence Housing Authority: Up to $21,000
  • One Neighborhood Builders: Up to $125,000
  • Pawtucket Housing Authority: Up to $3,200
  • Town of Cumberland: Up to $35,000
  • Town of Smithfield: Up to $38,000

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