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On this episode of Connected Nation, we talk with leadership at the USDA about the recently launched Rural Partners Network which promises to bring “the federal government [directly] to rural America.” We find out how this approach will work, which remote areas will immediately benefit, and how other small towns across the US can take advantage of this new opportunity. Related links:Get the factsheet about the Rural Partners Network - Infrastructure Law Rural Playbook: A roadmap for delivering opportunities and investments in rural America  - From the White House: Press release announcing the Rural Partners Network (RPN)About USDA Rural Development - what else the USDA is doing to connect rural America – Connected Nation podcast, season 2, episode 14  
On this episode of Connected Nation, we talk with the COO of Patriot Broadband – a company with a mission to “bring reliable, fast, affordable, and secure internet connections to underserved rural communities.” The company is fulfilling its goal by asking if YOU want to own the internet and empower your own community. We’ll explore how that could work.  Related links:Company website: on becoming a franchisee: 
On this episode of Connected Nation, we discuss the "need for speed" when it comes to internet connectivity – specifically how the U-S is doing in comparison to the E-U. The Fair Internet Report has been tracking *international* broadband performance for years. The report’s lead researcher shares when there was a “transformational change” in download speeds, how the US approaches upgrades differently than European countries, and where the fastest internet speeds can be found. Related Links: Compare broadband providers near you at Read the full study at
On this episode of Connected Nation,  we talk with those behind Accelecom  – a company created specifically to manage commercial access to Kentucky’s newly created state-owned, fiber optic network. We ask how the company is helping  private and nonprofit organizations tap into the  new, high-speed network, why it’s a good business model, and what mistakes - and victories - were made along the way  that other states can learn from. Related links:Company website: In the podcast, we discuss the founder of Connected Nation but did not name the professor. In 2001, Dr. Linda Ellis Johnson joined the staff of the Kentucky Governor’s office as Chief IT Strategist in the Office for the New Economy and simultaneously started a non-profit corporation committed to building technology public-private partnerships.Dr. Johnson began her career as an academic at Western Kentucky University where in 1991 she joined the faculty as a Professor of Information Systems in the Gordon Ford College of Business.  She became Chair of the Department in 1996 providing leadership for the unit until 2001. 
On this episode of Connected Nation, we talk with the President and CMO for Parks Associates - a national market and research consulting firm.  Learn how this woman and family-owned firm became one of the most trusted companies in tech research and find out what emerging consumer tech trends leadership sees on the horizon.  Related links: Parks Associates website - @elizparks and @ParksAssociatesLinkedIn - Associates events page - press releases:25% of US broadband households intend to purchase a smart appliance in the next six months Parks Associates estimates that almost 114 million US households access the internet at home Health at home is entering the mainstream  
On this episode of Connected Nation, we discuss the idea of building an internet for everyone in every corner of the globe.   We’ll talk with the man who serves as the regional Vice President for North America for the Internet Society – a nonprofit working to not only extend the internet’s reach but also protect its long-term well-being.    Related links:Internet society website: Internet Society’s Action Plan 2022 (pdf) - more about Community Networks: the Internet Society on social media - Twitter at @internetsociety and Facebook at Internet Society
On this episode of Connected Nation, we talk with Dr. Fallon Wilson, who is the co-founder and CEO of Black Tech Futures Research institute. We’ll discuss her work for equal access and representation in tech, media, and telecommunications AND learn more about her prophecies for Black tech in America. Related links: Multicultural Media, Telecom, and Internet Council website - #BlackTechFutures Black Institute website - Twitter: @sistahwilson and @mmtconline TEDx Talk from Dr. Fallon Wilson -
On this episode of Connected Nation,  we explore the important work being done by the Black Churches 4 Broadband Coalition.   Learn how the group is working to better connect black communities, what resources each of us can share to help others, AND why the Coalition calls the need for universal broadband "a civil rights issue."  Related links: Black Churches 4 Broadband Coalition website - Media, Telecom, and Internet Council website - -  @blackchurchpacand @mmtconline
On this episode of Connected Nation, we take a deep dive with those behind efforts to improve high-speed internet coverage across all areas of Texas – which is not an easy task when you consider how large the Lone Star State is.We’ll discuss what it has taken to develop better broadband coverage data for a whopping 254 counties – we’ll ask why that’s so important and explore the reason 2022 is a critical time not for just Texas but for every state in the union.  Related links: Interactive broadband coverage map: Maps Link: Maps Link: Connected Nation Texas website: 
On this episode of Connected Nation we talk with the co-founder and CEO of Eventnoire – a premiere ticketing platform for events that embrace black culture. The company recently won a national startup competition for its innovative work. Learn how the company supports event organizers and business leaders within the black community in a unique way – that both celebrates black culture AND provides a new path to success - and find out why the CEO calls internet access "the great equalizer." Related links:Company website - an event - the news - Eventnoire wins national startup competitionFollow Eventnoire on social media - Twitter at  @eventnoire AND Facebook at EventNoire
On this episode of Connected Nation  we talk with the Founder and CEO of Core Learning Exchange—a national organization focused on CTE and STEM training. Learn how the company is creating more diverse and equitable online learning models  WHILE at the same time pivoting training to respond to major surges in the job market – that make those who finish the program in-demand.    Related links: Core Learning exchange website: this out: 1-minute product demoReview the Core Learning Exchange course catalog (email required): Rural and Small Schools Grant Program details: 
On this episode of Connected Nation, we talk with the Vice President of Connect K12 about the recently released “Report on School Connectivity.” Find out what new data shows us about internet connectivity at America’s schools, what’s now being used as the standard benchmark for districts, and what’s on the line as Connect K-12 focuses on empowering state and school district leaders to improve their schools’ digital learning capabilities.   Related links:Report on School Connectivity – Funding Year 2021Connect K-12 website - – @connect_k12 Facebook – GetConnectK12Press release - January 10, 2022 press release on connectivity report 
In this episode of Connected Nation,  we talk with leadership from nation’s third largest agricultural co-ops – Land O’Lakes, Inc.  Learn why the farmer-owned organization is now taking active steps to close the Digital Divide and how leadership hopes to close digital equity gaps in rural America by partnering with a national nonprofit that works to grow civic leaders in under-resourced communities.   Related links:Land O'Lakes, Inc. website - Connection Project - Research Study referenced USDA report on farm computer usage and ownership snapshot of the top 100 agricultural co-ops 
On this episode of Connected Nation, we talk with former Microsoft Executive and Amazon Senior Vice President David Risher. Learn how he plans to reach one billion children with his Worldreader program, why he says readers have better lives overall, and the reason he believes  expanding broadband access can positively impact the nation’s literacy rates.  Related links:Worldreader website Worldreader app: Follow Worldreader and its founder on Twitter @worldreaders and @davidrisherWR More about David Risher: Research study referenced in podcast -
On this episode of Connected Nation, we talk with the Executive Director of Link Oregon – a nonprofit working to create and operate a statewide, high-speed fiber-optic network for the public and non-profit sectors.  Learn how the organization is tackling the need on tribal lands, collaborating with other western states to get the job done, AND the role wildfires (among other natural disasters) play when it comes to planning for expanding broadband access.   Related links: Oregon Network Map (updated March 2021)   
On this episode of Connected Nation we talk with the author of the book entitled “Farm Fresh Broadband—the politics of rural connectivity.” Learn why he says US broadband policy is "broken," what many of use are getting wrong about rural America, and how taking a new, more informed approach could finally help close the rural-urban Digital Divide. Related links:Follow Dr. Ali on Twitter at@Ali_ChristopherGet your copy of Farm Fresh Broadband -
On this episode of Connected Nation, we take you on a worldwide adventure courtesy of those behind what’s been dubbed “The Great Empatico Expedition.”  Learn how this free program empowers students and teachers from more than 160 countries to explore the world—creating experiences that spark curiosity, kindness, and empathy for others. Related links:Check out the website: on Twitter at @EmpaticoOrg and on Facebook. Get started with Empatico. This short video explains how: OR click here for a downloadable pdf detailing the Great Empatico Expedition.
On this episode of Connected Nation, we talk with the authors of a new, national report that examines “learning at home while being under-connected.” The report's authors went directly to parents to learn how they coped with the unexpected challenges of COVID-19. Find out what the research revealed about remote learning, what it uncovered about digital inequities among our nation’s families, and what parents think schools should prioritize moving forward. Related links: Connect with the study's authors on Twitter: Professor Vikki Katz and Vicky Rideout Full report - findings -
On this episode of Connected Nation, we talk with the Founder and Executive Director of Computers 4 People—a nonprofit that’s putting a modern twist on the old adage “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”  Learn how the group is using that idea to close the digital equity gap, the missing piece that the AT&T homework gap program provided (and THAT continues to be a need), and what the nonprofit’s founder is asking YOU to do today. Related links:Website – Computers 4 People Twitter - @Computer4People Facebook - the Digital Divide: how the pandemic revealed what we can all do to improve digital equity 
On this episode of Connected Nation, we talk with those behind Digitunity—a national  nonprofit working to ensure everyone who needs a computer has one.   It’s a gap that’s often overlooked – and it’s one that can be closed partly by shifting the way US companies address their supply chain. Find out how that’s possible and how those in need can leverage the program.  Related links: Digitunity's website - Mapping the technology gap in your neighborhood - Follow Digitunity on Twitter and Facebook 
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