Minneapolis non-profits encouraged to apply for free wireless Internet accounts
In its continuing efforts to make Minneapolis a wireless city that bridges the digital divide, City officials are now non-profit organizations that provide free computer access to the public.
The Wireless Community accounts are intended to give free wireless services to agencies that provide public computer access, technology literacy training, and/or technology support for underserved communities. Applications are due by Monday, May 18, and will be reviewed by the City of Minneapolis staff and a group of community representatives who have been working with the City on digital inclusion issues. Recommendations on how to distribute the 100 free accounts will be made to the City Council, which will approve the final list of agencies selected for Wireless Community accounts. The free accounts will be good through 2010.
Agencies selected to receive the free accounts will also receive free monthly subscription vouchers that they can use to recruit volunteers who can assist with staffing and training in their community technology centers. In total, $15,000 in free service vouchers will be distributed, in addition to the 100 free accounts.
These accounts and subscription vouchers are just the latest examples of how Minneapolis City residents are benefiting from the robust community benefits agreement negotiated between the City of Minneapolis and USI Wireless, the company that built, owns and manages the wireless network throughout Minneapolis. Additional benefits of this agreement include:
- The Digital Inclusion Fund (managed by the Minneapolis Foundation), which has distributed more than $400,000 in grants to organizations throughout Minneapolis to increase technology access and digital literacy learning. It is estimated that about $11 million will be generated to fund digital inclusion efforts in the community over the 10-year contract.
- An online "Civic Garden" that provides a free level of service for anyone who can receive the USI Wireless signal. The Civic Garden offers free Web access to a wealth of public sector information about government, education, and community services at www.wirelessminneapolis.org .
- Up to 5 percent of the Minneapolis area (including some parks and plazas) designated as free wireless zones.
The City of Minneapolis will distribute requests for applications for free wireless accounts to local non-profit agencies. Applications will also be available online.
The City of Minneapolis’ public-private partnership with USI Wireless is being held up as a model for how cities and businesses can work together to make the notion of a "wireless city" a reality, and at the same time to improve government services and bridge the digital divide.
April 6, 2009
Published Apr. 6, 2009