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e-Vermont Aims at Rural Towns
Posted by Jon Ketchum at 05:05:01 PM Thu 05/20/2010
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Digital Wish is proud to be a part of the Vermont Council on Rural
Development team helping to increase community broadband usage
throughout the state of Vermont. Our goal is to effectively manage the
education initiative,  stimulating increased broadband use throughout
the state by implementing 1:1 computing in area schools.

MONTPELIER, VT – e-Vermont is a new $4 million initiative to help
rural Vermont towns take full advantage of the Internet and advance a
wide variety of local needs including economic development, school
innovation, job creation, downtown marketing, community engagement,
and e-commerce.Two dozen communities statewide will be selected to
work with the new e-Vermont Partnership in a comprehensive effort
combining online services, training, access, awareness, and planning.

By reaching the bedrocks of Vermont communities—schools, businesses,
municipal government, libraries, health and social services
groups—e-Vermont will promote new collaborative efforts for
identifying and implementing previously untapped resources and help
our towns fully realize the potential of the digital age.

The e-Vermont project will learn from each of the selected towns and
share these best practices in the uses of digital tools through
symposia and conferences statewide.

e-Vermont is supported by a $2.5 million stimulus grant from the U.S.
Department of Commerce. Additional support comes from the Evslin
Family Foundation, Vermont Community Foundation, the Jan and David
Blittersdorf Foundation, UVM’s Center for Rural Studies, the Vermont
Rural Partnership and by donated services and equipment from Dell,
Microsoft, and Comcast.

Key to this major campaign is the new “e-Vermont Partnership” led by
the Vermont Council on Rural Development (VCRD). VCRD is a non-profit
organization dedicated to the support of the locally-defined progress
of Vermont's rural communities.

In addition to VCRD, the e-Vermont Partnership is made up of the
Vermont State Colleges, the Vermont Department of Libraries, the
Vermont Department of Public Service, Vermont Small Business
Development Center, the Snelling Center for Government, Front Porch
Forum, Digital Wish, Evslin Family Foundation and Vermont Community

Local committees in participating towns will work with VCRD staff and
the e-partners to customize a two year plan from a menu of programs
and services such as:

- e-government - training and consultation on podcasting, on-line
meetings, community scheduling, website development.

- Front Porch Forums that link neighbors to each other and to local services
Computer equipment and enhancement of e-services in libraries.

- Free Netbook computers for 4-5th graders and extensive teacher
training to imbed technology in the curriculum.

- Specialized classes ranging from basic computer literacy to advanced
applications to meet the range of community and business needs.

- e-commerce classes and one-to-one counseling for local businesses.

- Building community calendars, business directories, buy-local maps,
arts and crafts tours, sports schedules, ride shares, and a variety of
new locally-driven digital applications.

- Expanding on-line computer health information and opportunities.

- Expanding the use of web-based tools to facilitate community
engagement and advance locally-designed initiatives.

“The federal stimulus money provides a tremendous opportunity for
Vermonters to ensure that our communities take full advantage of
broadband technology, including advancing the bottom line of our
businesses,” said VCRD Executive Director Paul Costello. 

Vermont’s congressional delegates have been strong supporters of the
e-Vermont concept.  Senator Leahy pointed out: "The impact of
e-Vermont will yield both short-term and long-term community
development benefits, creating new jobs, educating children and using
technology to improve Vermonters' lives."

e-Vermont partners worked closely with Vermont’s stimulus office
through the application process.  According to Governor Douglas, "This
effort is a key part of the SmartVermont strategy. In order to reach
our goals in e-Education, e-Health, e-government, and e-Energy, we
need to remove all obstacles to Internet use for Vermonters. Even when
the problem of access is solved, other challenges like lack of
equipment and training remain.”

Municipal leaders and other local organizations that are interested in
having their towns apply should contact Margaret Gibson McCoy at VCRD
at 802-223-6091 or by email at [email protected].  Details on the
application process are posted at www.vtrural.org.

Digital Wish Media Contact:
Jennifer Miller, [email protected]
Digital Wish
PO Box 255
Milton, DE 19968

Tags: Digital Wish, e-Vermont, Council on Rural Development