Project to expand Internet service in Fruit Belt wins $300,000 grant

Buffalo

This file photo shows a person working on a laptop.

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — The University at Buffalo (UB) and Mission:Ignite have been awarded a $300,000 federal grant to help expand broadband Internet in the Queen City.

This project is one of seven across the country receiving money through Project OVERCOME.

Project OVERCOME is a $2.7 million initiative run by U.S. Ignite. It challenged people to find innovative ways to bring broadband Internet services to communities.

“The pandemic forced a largescale public shift to virtual education, work-from-home and telemedicine, simultaneously exposing the gaping digital divide. Mission:Ignite has helped to lead the effort to connect people to devices but internet access continues to be a hurdle. We commend the project leader, the University at Buffalo, and all of the project partners for this collaborative effort to improve access to broadband for residents in Buffalo.”

Rep. Brian Higgins

U.S. Ignite says at least 17 million people in the country are without basic Internet access.

The money awarded to the Buffalo project will be used to help the city’s Fruit Belt neighborhood be better connected. People living there will receive broadband Internet service via a Citizens Broadband Radio Service-based wireless network.

Mission:Ignite will serve as the operational owner of the network.

“We at Mission:Ignite are grateful to U.S. Ignite and Schmidt Futures and their efforts to help narrow the digital divide that exists for so many Americans. In our twenty-four years of serving NY State and WNY community providing over 32,000 computers and related training for schools, students, and families; this first of a kind community project will provide a free internet resource that will help complete the digital equity solution. We look forward to collaborating with our partners and the local Fruit Belt community in hopes of bringing technology supports as a healthy resource for education and family needs. We are honored to be a part of this creative team of community partners who are looking to make an impact for digital equity.”

Mission:Ignite Executive Director Christine Carr-Barmasse

Other federal grants were given to projects in Ohio, Missouri, Oregon, Michigan and Yonkers, New York.

Evan Anstey is a digital content producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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