Dogwood Health Announces Digital Opportunities Initiative

Dogwood Health Trust has announced a new Digital Opportunities Initiative focused on addressing the digital divide in Western North Carolina. The initiative is designed to make inclusion in the digital world easier and more relevant for individuals and families across the Qualla Boundary and Dogwood’s 18-county service region. Dogwood is seeking proposals from collaborative nonprofit organizations beginning July 1 through August 9. Organizations interested in learning more are encouraged to attend a webinar on Wednesday, June 26 at 12 p.m.  Webinar registration is available by clicking this link.

“Around 20 percent of households are not connected to the internet and many more have limited access. People in Western North Carolina face challenges such as cost, devices, and knowing how to use a connection for the things they need,” said Dr Susan Mims, CEO of Dogwood Health Trust. “Access to an affordable internet connection and skills for using it is necessary for school, jobs, healthcare, and almost every aspect of living in today’s world. We are excited to join with our partners to play a role in helping Western North Carolina solve these challenges.”

Dogwood plans to work with up to 10 Digital Opportunity collaboratives, and up to five participating organizations within those collaboratives will receive grant funding during the initial 18-month grant cycle. Collaboratives will consist of community organizations and residents led by a “hub,” or lead organization, who will work with the participating organizations to identify and implement strategies that are best suited to impact those most in need across WNC. “Dogwood believes that when the people most impacted by the issues are involved in finding solutions, they create the strategies that work best for them,” said Sarah Thompson, VP – Economic Opportunity, Dogwood Health Trust. Thompson hopes to see a robust number of applicants for this innovative new work.

Funding can be used to build capacity, to create or enhance a county or regional collaborative, and there will be implementation funding available based on emergent strategies the collaborative identifies. Grantees can expect to receive comprehensive coaching, technical assistance and collaborative training.

Dogwood has already made inroads to foster digital opportunities within the region with the creation of digital equity plans. With support from Dogwood, NC State University’s Institute for Emerging Issues developed digital equity plans that bring local people and organizations together to build a collaborative structure and set of shared agreements. Digital opportunity collaboratives will utilize these existing county-level plans to review, refine and build out implementation strategies that lead to equitable outcomes.

The Digital Opportunities Initiative application will be available on July 1, 2024, with responses due by 5:00 p.m. on August 9, 2024. Award notifications will be made by mid-September with funds distributed in October 2024. Dogwood is offering an informational webinar to interested organizations on Wednesday, June 26 at 12 p.m.  Webinar registration is available by clicking this link, and more information can be found on Dogwood’s website.

About Dogwood Health Trust

Dogwood Health Trust is a private foundation based in Asheville, North Carolina with the sole purpose of dramatically improving the health and wellbeing of all people and communities of 18 counties and the Qualla Boundary in Western North Carolina. Dogwood Health Trust focuses on innovative and equitable ways to address the many factors that contribute to overall health and wellbeing, with a focus on housing, education, economic opportunity, and health and wellness. Dogwood Health Trust works to create a Western North Carolina where every generation can live, learn, earn and thrive, with dignity and opportunity for all, no exceptions. To learn more, please visit www.dht.org.