ECC receives more than $850,000 for rural college broadband access, a lifeline for students and community
EDGECOMBE COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) - During the COVID-19 pandemic, access to the internet and technology is proving to be a lifeline for some and a critical absence for many in rural communities.
Like Edgecombe Community College, many rural colleges are working to bridge the gap for their students and communities.
ECC recently received more than $850,000 for the Rural College Broadband Access project from the North Carolina Community College System to address technology needs, access, and security.
According to the NC Department of Commerce, Edgecombe County is the most economically distressed county in the state. Experts say that more than one out of every three households in the county has no internet access, which puts many Edgecombe Community College students at a disadvantage, especially during the pandemic when most classes are online. For these students, access provided by the College is a critical lifeline.
ECC President Dr. Greg McLeod said, “At no time in the history of Edgecombe Community College has funding to strengthen our technology resources been more critical or more appreciated. This funding will assist ECC beyond measure to advance the College and to benefit our students and their families.”
College officials surveyed students early in the pandemic and say a majority of their concerns related to technology. To meet their needs, campus libraries have remained open to current students who lack access. With the help of private donations, the College purchased Chromebooks to lend to students who lack devices.
School leaders say they will use the funds in coordination with the NC Department of Information Technology, the Microelectronics Center of North Carolina, and the NC Community College System to strengthen fiber optics to enable future internet speeds of 10G on both the Tarboro and Rocky Mount campuses. Funds also will be used to upgrade campus WiFi and enhance outdoor wireless capabilities.
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