Connect2Compete announces $3 million grant from Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation is second multi-million-dollar backer of digital opportunity initiative

Washington, D.C. -- (October 2, 2012) – Connect2Compete, a public-private partnership dedicated to providing digital opportunity to all Americans, today announced a $3 million grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. The grant will support C2C’s activities, including its collaboration with local stakeholders in Knight communities.

The grant is the second major contribution after $3 million from Mexican philanthropist Carlos Slim. The grants take C2C more than one-third of the way toward its initial three-year goal of raising $20 million to provide low-cost Internet access, digital literacy training and refurbished computers to low-income families. 

“Low-income and minority Americans disproportionately find themselves on the wrong side of the digital divide – excluded from the $8 trillion digital economy and all of its benefits.  So, it is extremely gratifying to have the long-term support of the Knight Foundation to bridge that divide,” said Zach Leverenz, CEO of C2C. “Connect2Compete, like the Knight Foundation, is committed to an ideal: that when citizens have access to technology and training, incredible transformation can occur in their lives and in our economy.”

Knight Foundation, which supports projects that help communities be more informed and engaged, has long been committed to promoting digital access and opportunity, eliminating the digital divide and creating opportunities for all Americans using technology.

“Digital literacy and access are essential for communities to be informed and engaged, so they can shape their own futures,” said Paula Ellis, vice president for strategic initiatives at Knight Foundation. “Connect2Compete has put together an unparalleled public-private partnership to provide everything from training to computers to broadband. We are pleased to be able to support them, and help them succeed on the local level in the communities where we work.”

Over the past two decades technology has grown to change the way we approach business, education, employment, health care, and civic engagement.  However, one-third of all Americans – approximately 100 million people – risk becoming increasingly isolated from contemporary life because they lack access to the Internet and the skills necessary to use it effectively.

“Broadband can be the great equalizer – giving every American with an Internet connection access to a world of new opportunities that might previously have been beyond their reach,” said Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski.  “The Connect2Compete initiative is helping ensure that more Americans enjoy the education, health, and economic benefits of broadband.”

In the coming weeks, C2C will unveil a national pilot program in nearly 1,000 communities in 22 states across the country. Working with national and local partners, low-cost, high-speed broadband Internet and reduced-cost laptops will be available to families who qualify, along with opportunities to improve their digital literacy skills.

The Knight Foundation’s support continues the momentum of major commitments to C2C’s efforts. This past May, C2C announced it was partnering with the Ad Council to develop the Council’s first-ever digital literacy advertising campaign. That same month, the Carlos Slim Foundation announced it was also backing C2C’s efforts through a $3 million donation over three years.

A small prototype program offering reduced-cost Internet access and computers was also successfully completed in the San Diego area from May 1 to June 30, resulting in more than 1,400 families taking advantage of C2C’s Internet or computer offers.

“In the coming months, we’ll be curating the best online content, networking existing local digital literacy programs and establishing ‘community-of-practice’ locations around the country,” said Ben Hecht, chairman of C2C’s board of directors. “The Knight Foundation and others’ support is a tremendous boost to ensuring that we achieve our goal of making the promise of our digital age available to all Americans.”

About Connect2Compete:

C2C is a national nonprofit organization designed to help narrow the digital divide by making high-speed Internet access, computers, education and jobs content, and digital literacy training more accessible for Americans without home connectivity. Founded less than a year ago, C2C includes more than 40 non-profit and other private sector partners, such as Best Buy, Discovery, LULAC, the National Urban League, and the Boys & Girls Clubs of America. Learn more at Connect2Compete.org.

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. The foundation believes that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit KnightFoundation.org. For more about the Soul of the Community study, visit www.soulofthecommunity.org.

Contacts:

Rob Vernon, Connect2Compete, 202-585-2631, rvernon@golinharris.com

Andrew Sherry, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, media@knightfoundation.org

 

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged. For more, visit www.knightfoundation.org.