State Awards $1.4 Million to Expand Digital Equity & Literacy Initiatives at Correctional Institutes | Eastern North Carolina Now

Press Release:

    RALEIGH, N.C.     The N.C. Department of Information Technology's (NCDIT) Division of Broadband and Digital Equity announced $1.4 million for correctional institutions including Hyde Correctional Institute and Tyrrell Prison Work Farm as part of a total of $9.9 million in awards for the state's first Digital Equity Grant, which will help North Carolinians afford high-speed internet, obtain digital devices and access digital literacy resources. Beaufort County Community College manages educational services for both correctional institutions and will install virtual technology in specific classrooms for educational programming.

    "All North Carolinians need the knowledge and the devices to safely access the internet," said Governor Roy Cooper. "This first round of digital equity funding will help us build the foundation of the effort to make sure everyone can get online in an affordable way."

    As part of its initiative, NCDIT awarded $1,399,383.80 to upfit classrooms in prison facilities with computer labs and devices and increase digital literacy among incarcerated individuals enrolled in education services. Beaufort County Community College offers high school equivalency through HiSet at both facilities and human resources development courses such as the Career Readiness Certificate, computer skills, construction safety, and transitional and career skills. At Hyde Correctional, students can take one of two optional certifications in Basic Electrical Theory and Lift Truck Operator. The college also offers an Associate in Applied Science in Agribusiness Technology at Hyde Correctional.

    Hyde Correctional Institution became the first medium security correctional facility to offer forklift training in North Carolina. The "Strive for Five" program developed by BCCC transitional & career studies instructor Darwin Woolard has been replicated across the state. The initiative encourages students to students to complete four of the career or basic skills courses offered and one of the optional certifications.

    "The partnership between BCCC, Hyde Correctional Institution, and the Department of Public Safety is one built on innovation and student success," said Dr. Justin Rose, Director of Industry Training at BCCC. "The ability to access resources like this is what allows regions like Eastern North Carolina to make substantial impacts on the lives of our residents and this area."

    Other institutions to receive funding through the Digital Equity and Literacy Initiative included East Carolina University to train healthcare workers, the N.C. Department of Health and Human Services' Division of Aging and Adult Services, N.C. State University's Institute for Emerging Issues, N.C. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Rural Health, N.C. Business Committee for Education, Inc., N.C. Department of Transportation's Office of Civil Rights, and N.C. Division of Historic Sites and Properties.

    "Through this collaboration with our state partners, we can advance meaningful digital equity, inclusion and literacy projects in communities across the state," said NCDIT Secretary and State Chief Information Officer Jim Weaver. "These Digital Equity Grants will help fund digital device distribution, technology support and workforce development programs that will help us close the digital divide."

    Using funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the multi-phased Digital Equity Grant encourages collaborative partnerships that positively impact populations identified in the Digital Equity Act, including low-income households, individuals who primarily reside in a rural area, older Americans/aging residents, incarcerated and/or second chance citizens/reentry/justice involved, veterans, individuals with disabilities, individuals with a language barrier (including individuals who are English learners or whose first language is not English and/or individuals who have low levels of literacy), and individuals who are members of a racial or ethnic minority group.

    NCDIT will post details about individual grant awards to its website once all awards have been contracted. The second phase of the digital equity grant program will open by March to applications from municipalities and nonprofits, community-based organizations, and key stakeholder groups for local digital inclusion projects and device distribution. A total of $14 million will be available to fund proposals made during phase two of the grant program.

    For more information about the NCDIT Division of Broadband and Digital Equity or Gov. Cooper's plan to close the digital divide in North Carolina, please visit

  • Attila Nemecz
  • Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator
  • Beaufort County Community College
  • 5337 U.S. Highway 264 East
  • Washington, N.C. 27889
  • Ph: 252-940-6387
  • Cell: 252-940-8672

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