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Innovative Connectivity Solutions

Traditional internet service providers (ISPs) have failed to connect millions of Americans to the internet. According to the Federal Communications Commission, more than 21 million people in the United States are unconnected. This includes nearly 3 in 10 people (27 percent) who live in rural communities and 2 percent of city dwellers. In response to the monopolies established by major ISPs, innovative connectivity solutions, such as municipal broadband networks and cooperatives, have emerged as viable alternatives for the most underserved. Community coalitions around the U.S. are developing their own solutions or partnering with independent service providers focused on people over profits. One such coalition is Project Rise Up—an initiative of the technology-driven nonprofit mohuman.

A Promising Model 

Mohuman helps underserved people access digital services that improve their lives. Backed by a Michelson Spark Grant, mohuman will launch Project Rise Up, a community-nonprofit-university model operating in San Diego’s Promise Zone. Project Rise Up aims to connect up to 3,000 low-income students and residents in San Diego to the internet within the next twelve months. After a year of community building and engaging local nonprofits, leaders, and residents as co-developers of a digital resilience strategy, Project Rise Up will foster collaboration, share resources, and act to end San Diego’s digital divide. Mohuman will deploy their moDAT platform to deliver digital literacy training, free to low-cost digital devices, and onramps to non-digital services that address food insecurity, healthcare, finance, childcare, and more. 

Mohuman has partnered with the Qualcomm Institute at the University of California, San Diego, and the Corporation for Education Network Initiatives in California to provide investments in technology and a high-speed internet backbone for a community mesh network within the San Diego Promise Zone. This network will establish free internet to families and individuals who cannot access or afford home internet. As part of this effort, mohuman will also train and certify high school students and community residents in internet infrastructure management, creating skilled tech jobs in the process.

Building National Digital Resilience 

There are twenty-two promise zones throughout the U.S., and mohuman believes their model can be scaled across all of them by 2025 to build national digital resilience. It’s an ambitious vision, one that parallels the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship at the core of Michelson 20MM’s ethos. Project Rise Up is the type of catalytic initiative that we hoped to encounter when we launched Michelson Spark Grants and the kind of disruptive approach needed to solve an issue as big as digital inequity. 

The Michelson 20MM Foundation is dedicated to supporting and investing in leading organizations, technologies, and initiatives that seek to transform learning and improve access to educational opportunities that lead to a meaningful career. Michelson 20MM was founded thanks to the generous support of renowned spinal surgeon and inventor Dr. Gary K. Michelson and his wife, Alya Michelson. Visit us at 20mm.org.