Johannes M. Bauer, Keith Hampton, and community partners will be recognized by Michigan State University on February 24 with the 2022 Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Service for their efforts to increase understanding of the cost of digital inequalities to rural students, and to help overcome discrepancies in access to high-speed internet connectivity.
Merit Network, Inc. (Joe Sawasky, Charlotte Bewersdorff), Eastern Upper Peninsula Intermediate School District (Jason F. Kronemeyer), Mecosta Osceola Intermediate School District (Fred Sharpsteen), St. Clair County Regional Educational Service Agency (Kevin D. Miller, Brenda Tenniswood), Washtenaw County Broadband Task Force (Ben Fineman), and the Southwest Michigan Planning Commission (K. John Egelhaaf) are the community partners in this project.
“This collaboration began in 2017 as an effort to help overcome discrepancies in access to high-speed Internet connectivity. By 2017, an estimated 27% of Michigan households with school-aged children, many of them located in rural parts of the state, did not have access to broadband connectivity. With our partners, this project put the knowledge and expertise of university faculty and students to work to address real world problems faced by local communities,” Hampton, professor in the Department of Media and Information, said.
The project led by Bauer and Hampton looked to understand the importance of broadband internet access to rural communities, measure the disparities between those rural and urban communities, and to provide a methodology for those communities to close that gap in access. Its success critically depended on collaboration with and support by several community partners. Merit Network, Inc., a regional education network, was instrumental throughout the entire collaboration, as were Eastern Upper Peninsula ISD, Mecosta Osceola ISD, and St. Clair County Regional Educational Service during the initial pilot project. [Read the full announcement on the Quello Center | Blog]