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Funding available to expand community WIFI in Appalachian Ohio

Foundation for Appalachian Ohio and AEP Ohio announce new funding opportunity to increase Internet access

NELSONVILLE — Through a partnership between the Foundation for Appalachian Ohio (FAO) and the AEP Ohio Foundation, funding is now available to nonprofit and public organizations working to expand community WIFI access points in communities across Appalachian Ohio.

“Internet access is a critical need in our communities, especially during the pandemic,” Raja Sundararajan, AEP Ohio president and chief operating officer, said. “Internet connectivity offers access to education, health care and work opportunities. We are pleased to partner with FAO to help close the gaps in high speed broadband access across this area by supporting new community WIFI access points.”

Applications for funding are available at www.AppalachianOhio.org/WIFI, with a priority application submission date of Friday, July 17, 2020.

Any applications received after this date will be reviewed on a rolling basis. To the extent possible, funding and installation should be completed by Aug. 31, 2020 to meet community WIFI needs during the 2020-2021 school year.

By allowing Appalachian Ohio communities and organizations to expand community WIFI access points, this funding opportunity aims to increase access to connectivity during this critical period of the COVID-19 pandemic while also creating a long-term community benefit that can support additional opportunities.

Community institutions including libraries, schools, community centers and local governments have long worked to address gaps in connectivity through the installation of WIFI hubs outside their buildings for community use. One way this is done is through the installation of outdoor grade access points to provide internet access to community members.

Access points work much like home WIFI, but extend coverage to provide access to a larger outside area. Access points connect to the internet through either an ethernet connection to existing service or by connecting to an antenna to get service directly from a wireless network.

A total of $35,000 is available for the purchase of community WIFI access point hardware and related installation expenses. Funding is available to organizations located within the 32 counties of Appalachian Ohio and AEP Ohio’s service area.

Public or nonprofit organizations and groups working through fiscal sponsorship agreements with public or nonprofit organizations are eligible to apply.

For detailed information on eligibility and to apply, visit www.AppalachianOhio.org/WIFI.