Project OVERCOME Announces Grant Winners Featuring Innovative Community Solutions

Last fall we wrote about the launch of Project OVERCOME, a grant program "designed to connect the unconnected through novel broadband technology solutions" by soliciting applications from community-based organizations and ultimately award $2.7 million funded through the National Science Foundation and Schmidt Futures (the philanthropic initiative founded by Eric and Wendy Schmidt).

Project OVERCOME seeks to "[C]ollect data to measure the technical and social impacts of different connectivity strategies [in order to] discover patterns of success that can be repeated on a larger scale across the country, and to catalog the distinctions that emerge based on variations in the communities served."

Each of the winning projects will serve as an incubator of sorts, deploying proofs of concept with an array of wired and wireless technologies to connect households in 

Winning applications were recently announced for projects in Blue River, Oregon; Detroit, Michigan; Buffalo, New York; Yonkers, New York; Cleveland, Ohio; Clinton County, Missouri; and Loiza, Puerto Rico.

There's no word on the total number of households the winning bids expect to connect, but they range from apartment buildings to underserved neighborhoods to rural portions of counties. To get robust, resilient connections the bulk of the projects feature fiber backhaul feeding some sort of wireless deployment (including CBRS, millimeter-wave, and RF over Fiber (RFoF)). They also feature an array of partnerships with universities, libraries, nonprofits, and electric cooperatives, including DigitalC, Onward Eugene, Libraries without Borders, and teams at Missouri University of Science and Technology and the University of Buffalo.

See a snapshot of the winners below:

Lead Organization: DigitalC – Cleveland, Ohio

Project: Internet service to an underserved and historically Black neighborhood delivered through a combination of fiber and millimeter wave technologies, with local technical support and device purchase assistance

Lead Organization: Missouri University of Science and Technology – Clinton County, Missouri

Project: An RF over Fiber (RFoF) deployment using intelligent routing and multiple last-mile wireless technologies to serve a rural community

Lead Organization: The Westchester County Association – Yonkers, New York

Project: A CBRS network in a digital opportunity zone supported by exceptional partnerships to ensure youth involvement and digital equity

Lead Organization: Onward Eugene – Blue River, Oregon

Project: A resilient wireless link to rural McKenzie Valley combined with new fiber, a pilot CBRS education network, and new incentives to attract further private broadband investment

Lead Organization: Allied Media Projects – Detroit, Michigan

Project: A combination of fiber and fixed wireless infrastructure deployed and supported by a network of Digital Stewards employed at a neighborhood anchor institution

Lead Organization: Libraries Without Borders – Loiza, Puerto Rico

Project: A wireless mesh network deployed to three community centers providing digital skills training and health literacy information to low-income residents in underserved neighborhoods

Lead Organization: University at Buffalo – Buffalo, New York

Project: Internet service delivered via CBRS to the historic and under-resourced Fruit Belt neighborhood near the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus

“We were immensely gratified by the quality of proposals we received,” said Joe Kochan, CEO for US Ignite at the announcement. “It’s a challenge to combine creative technology solutions with strong partnership and community engagement strategies. Yet we found proposers exceeded our expectations in both criteria, and we are delighted to announce not only a stellar lineup of winning projects, but also one that reflects a strong mix of environments, demographics, housing types, and geographic regions. We couldn’t be more pleased with the results and what comes next for these communities.”

Winning projects will deploy this year and immediately begin collecting data on their impact in communites, with the intent to show successful models that can be replicated around the country.

See the full list with more details here.