Governor Laura Kelly celebrates broadband expansion in Spearville

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Governor Laura Kelly visited Spearville today to celebrate the announcement of the placement in Kansas of three American Connection Corps Fellows who will work to improve broadband access and digital literacy in the state.

The American Connection Corps is a scholarship program focused on bridging the digital divide and led by Land O’Lakes and Lead For America (LFA). ACC scholars will support their home communities in locations across the country through impactful, urgent two-year internships focused on bridging the digital divide and building the next generation of leaders.

“When it comes to broadband expansion, we all know that public-private partnerships are crucial – especially in our rural areas.” said Governor Kelly. “The American Connection Corps program is a perfect example of how we can use these partnerships to improve connectivity and empower all communities. I want to thank Land O’Lakes and Lead For America for their dedication to expanding access to quality, affordable high-speed internet across our state, and to work with my government to achieve our aggressive goals for improving broadband infrastructure in Kansas. “

As part of the national network, ACC scholars have access to world-class national training on community organizing, broadband and digital inclusion, as well as a nationwide network of LFA executives.

“Land O’Lakes is excited to join so many great partners in helping these leaders connect their communities here in Kansas.” said Beth Ford, President and CEO of Land O’Lakes, Inc. “Connectivity affects the ability of all communities to compete in the global marketplace and improve the prosperity of the people who live in them. We see that this program is growing significantly and that it is working together with state and federal legislators. We look forward to seeing the progress these fellows will drive as we continue to make the necessary investments in broadband infrastructure. “

“Lead For America is committed to building a generation of leaders dedicated to tackling the toughest challenges facing the communities they call home – especially in places like my home state of Kansas, where young people leave often and never return again. ” said Joe Nail, CEO and Co-Founder of Lead For America. “The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the importance of both local leadership and closing the digital divide in rural and urban communities across America. We are honored to work with Land O’Lakes and the other American Connection Corps partners to place 50 dynamic and locally rooted leaders in their hometowns and home states this year and to ensure this initiative becomes a statewide model for the national and community service for. will be many years to come. “

The following photos from today’s event are available for media use:

https://governor.kansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/MicrosoftTeams-image-9.jpg

https://governor.kansas.gov/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/MicrosoftTeams-image-10.jpg

Working with local institutions, the three ACC Fellows will tackle difficult challenges in Kansas, strengthen civic infrastructure, and join a new generation of transformative community leaders. The Fellows will also attend the LFA’s National Changemaker Summit, attend quarterly retreats, receive 1: 1 expert mentoring, and join a growing community of local leaders.

The following organizations will host fellows in their communities:

  • Amalia Murguia: Office for Economic Development of the Wabaunsee district government
    Under the direction of the Office for Economic Development – and in collaboration with residents, small businesses, educators and local internet providers – Amalia will assess broadband needs and deficits, identify potential resources and programs to fill gaps, and develop digital media improvement initiatives Literacy. The focus will be on how Wabaunsee County – its residents, small businesses and schools – transform broadband access and adoption from a relative disadvantage to a competitive advantage.
  • Jose Trejo: Strengthen Evergreen, Wichita, Kansas

    Through Empower Evergreen, a newly formed nonprofit focused on the holistic development of Wichita’s predominantly Hispanic community, Jose will work directly with the Executive Director to optimize labor productivity for Hispanic owned business owners through the use of broadband and avenues to improve access to technology for educational and labor use for Hispanic children and families.
  • Christianna Mershon: Newman University, Wichita, Kansas
    Through Newman University’s Student Affairs Department, Christianna will spend some of her time researching, implementing, and executing strategies that focus on how digital broadband can increase campus and community engagement; This leads to higher student retention rates. In addition, Christianna will identify barriers that limit Internet access for students, with a particular focus on students from rural communities.

The American Connection Corps is managed in collaboration with Lead For America and funded by the support of 20 other partner organizations, including: Land O’Lakes, Heartland Forward, CoBank, Tractor Supply Company, Microsoft, Mayo Clinic, Ariel Investments, Scoular, CHS, Zoetis, Tillamook County Creamery Association, Accenture, University of Minnesota, American Farm Bureau Federation, Midwest Dairy, Purdue University, Partner for Education, CentraCare, Common Sense Media, and University of Illinois Extension.

General information about the ACC can be found at: https://www.lead4america.org/american-connection-corps

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