Tag: "institute for local self-reliance"

Posted September 14, 2021 by Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is a national nonprofit working to empower communities by striking at the roots of monopoly power. Our Community Broadband Networks program focuses on local approaches to ensure everyone has high-quality Internet access. This program is a diverse and growing team that makes a difference – our analyses are frequently featured in national news media and sought out by policymakers.

ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks program seeks a GIS and Data Visualization Specialist. We are looking for candidates that have a passion for using their skills as part of a team focused on justice and equity for all. Our mission is focused on a range of digital equity challenges but this position will also offer opportunities to work on larger ILSR projects and goals.


  • Create informative broadband coverage maps using public and internal databases, including the infamous FCC Form 477
  • Compile statistics related to Internet access across datasets
  • Creatively develop visual resources to educate policymakers and activists on issues around Internet access
  • Support ongoing research for longer reports and projects
  • Support research for our allies and partners, often working with BIPOC communities


  • Strong writing, research, and communications skills
  • Graduate-level coursework in or professional experience working with spatial datasets or mapping efforts
  • Ability to combine both spatial datasets and nonspatial datasets to create user-facing products or as intermediary steps in research projects
  • Proficiency with statistics and GIS applications, experience cleaning data
  • Background knowledge of public policy and/or economics (preferred, but not required)
  • Creative thinking – graphics, videos, audio, maps, etc.
  • Ability to work independently and juggle multiple tasks
  • Enthusiasm for policy work to improve Internet access for everyone, but an appreciation of how uneven broadband access disproportionately harms historically marginalized communities

You do not need to know much about broadband policy or telecommunications when you start. Our team is well-versed in helping colleagues rapidly learn the intricacies around broadband policy. This is...

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Posted August 2, 2021 by Jericho Casper

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s (ILSR’s) Community Broadband Networks initiative is honored to be recognized as one of the top 100 fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) leaders by Broadband Communities magazine.

Broadband Communities publishes its annual Top 100 FTTH list to acknowledge the contributions that companies and organizations have made to the fiber optic industry. “‘Building a Fiber-Connected World’ is the tagline of Broadband Communities magazine, and each year the FTTH Top 100 list recognizes organizations that lead the way in this endeavor,” the publication explained. In addition to ILSR, awardees include fiber vendors, network operators, business consultants, and broadband engineers.

MuniNetworks and Community Networks Make the Mark

In the list entry for ILSR, Broadband Communities said:

ILSR’s publications, including its MuniNetworks.org blog, toolkit and weekly podcast that covers broadband and more . . . have been instrumental in showing communities that controlling their broadband destinies is feasible and has the potential to improve local economies and quality of life.

Christopher Mitchell, Director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative, commented on the award:

Broadband Communities was among the first to recognize the benefits of fiber optics for everyone and we are honored to be again named to their list of top 100 FTTH leaders.

Broadband Communities recognized a select few community broadband networks in the FTTH Top 100, including UTOPIA Fiber, an open access fiber network serving more than a dozen Utah communities, and Co-Mo Connect, the broadband subsidiary of Missouri electric cooperative. 

LUS Fiber, Louisiana’s only municipally-owned FTTH network, is a new entrant to the list this year. LUS Fiber currently serves 21,000 subscribers. This April, LUS Fiber received a $3.1 million federal grant to lay 47 miles of fiber infrastructure along U.S...

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Posted July 22, 2021 by Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

We're excited to announce that two postdoctoral fellows will be joining the Institute for Local Self-Reliance this coming fall to undertake one-year broadband projects to advance policy intitiatives and help move the needle towards universal, affordable, high-speed Internet access in the United States. 

The fellows are coming to us through the American Council of Learned Society's Leading Edge Fellowship Program, which places humanities and social science PhDs with nonprofits working to solve problems, build capacity, and advance justice and equity in society. 41 fellows were named for the 2021 year to work on issues like voting, civic governance, housing uncertainty, health outcomes for communities of color, reforming the justice system, and education.

This is our first year participating, and we're thrilled to announce that both of our proposed projects were chosen. The candidates were each unique and outstanding, and we're thrilled to announce that Tessa A. Eidelman (PhD, Community Research and Action, Vanderbilt University) and Revati Prasad (PhD, Communication, University of Pennsylvania) will be joining us starting in September.

Tessa joins us to continue work via a project called Internet Access as a Health Imperative: Defining the Health Outcomes and Cost Savings of Broadband Networks in Unconnected Communities. She will extend the work of an existing project ILSR is undertaking alongside the Southern Rural Black Women’s Initiative (SRBWI) to explore the cost savings of and increasing health outcomes for communities resulting from the installation of robust networks in rural areas for a constellation of promising telemedicine interventions, including diabetes, cardiovascular disease, chronic respiratory disease, asthma, and cancer. 

Revati will be...

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Posted June 11, 2021 by Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

ILSR is thrilled to welcome a collection of new faces to the Community Broadband Networks initiative team, bringing with them new energy and thoughtfulness which will continue to invigorate our work.

Dozmen Lee a political science major from Iowa State University who brings experience in grassroots organizations and helping build power for communities facing income disparities and adverse outcomes for youth populations. Doz joins us on a full-time basis as the new Outreach Coordinator, helping communities and local leaders at all stages considering investment in Internet infrastructure.

Ibrahim Ahmed is a Community Broadband Networks intern for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. He is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Southern California studying politics, philosophy, and law. He is interested in the intersection between political, economic, and social inequalities and how they affect access to broadband. Ibrahim is also the author of the forthcoming book, "Uniting the Divided States of America," set to be published by New Degree Press in December 2021.

Emma Gautier is a Community Broadband Networks intern for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. She supports data collection and analysis within the broadband initiative. Emma recently received a BA in Women’s and Gender Studies from Carleton College, and since graduation has been working in research, advocacy and political organizing for social and environmental justice. She is interested in the synthesis of research and on-the-ground action in communities.  

Ethan Winter is a graduate student in Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) and a Community Broadband Networks Intern with ILSR. He enjoys using data to fight against monopolists and advocate for local power. Prior to ILSR, Ethan graduated with a BA in Managerial Economics from Allegheny College. While off work, he brews beer and mead.

Henry Holtgeerts is a Multimedia Production Intern with the Community Broadband...

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Posted April 7, 2021 by Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is a national nonprofit working to empower communities by striking at the roots of monopoly power and striving toward a vision of thriving, diverse, equitable communities. We use in-depth research, reporting, and data analysis to produce influential reports and articles. Our analyses are frequently featured in national news media and sought out by policymakers. We work closely with a broad range of local community leaders, elected officials, and a diverse coalition of allies to advance these ideas and policies.

Community Broadband Organizer

ILSR is looking for an enthusiastic candidate to assist these local organizing efforts. Our Community Broadband Networks program has many resources and contacts that can dramatically accelerate local organizing efforts. This position will require frequent meetings with local groups to understand their goals and challenges, as well as organizing more general support systems like mutual-aid calls and other resources as needed. Success will mean many more communities will achieve digital equity more rapidly than would otherwise occur.


  • Meeting with local leaders/activists working on community broadband planning or building networks; helping to educate local efforts on common challenges, constraints, and opportunities.
  • Learning about broadband technology, policy, and related state and federal tools.
  • Finding alignment and opportunities in the work of allies in the field and engaging on them.
  • Occasionally developing one-pagers and other basic materials with colleagues at ILSR.
  • Knowing when to ignore bullet points.
  • Reporting back to ILSR colleagues on trends, challenges, and creative solutions and soliciting feedback to continue helping local efforts.

A Successful Candidate

  • Is an empathetic and engaged listener that can quickly understand what people in local efforts need and are struggling with.
  • Is highly self-directed and driven with an appreciation of the awesome power of human networking.
  • Is quick to learn new subjects.
  • Possesses a genuine enjoyment of collaboration with a willingness to give and receive honest feedback.
  • Passionate about the ILSR’s mission of countering corporate monopolies and building community power.
  • Understands that setbacks are...
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Posted March 17, 2021 by Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is pleased to announce that it has been selected by the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS) as a host organization for two Leading Edge Fellowships, which demonstrates the potential of humanistic knowledge and methods to solve problems, build capacity, and advance justice and equity in society. Leading Edge Fellowships place recent humanities PhDs with nonprofit organizations committed to promoting social justice in their communities.

In Fall 2021, the program will place up to 41 recent PhDs to work on projects at partnering organizations. Fellows receive an annual stipend of $60,000, as well as health insurance and professional development funding. Fellows lead substantive projects that draw on the skills and capacities honed in the course of earning the humanities PhD, including advanced communication, research, project management, and creative problem solving. This initiative is made possible through the support of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Applications are due May 6, 2021 (9pm EDT). For more information, visit https://www.acls.org/Competitions-and-Deadlines/Leading-Edge-Fellowships

ILSR will host two fellowship positions:


Bridging the Digital Divide in Native Nations

Internet infrastructure in Native Nations has been underfunded and overlooked compared to elsewhere in the country, and the consequences have been significantly exacerbated by the current pandemic. Many of these communities have built their own broadband networks to provide essential service to their residents and assist in meeting the challenges in running small businesses, accessing telehealth, and working and learning remotely.

ILSR has compiled the only known database of existing tribal broadband networks in the United States as a step toward understanding the unique challenges those communities face. With the support of ILSR’s broadband team, the Leading...

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Posted March 5, 2021 by Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

In 2020 the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative said sad goodbyes to Lisa Gonzalez and Katie Kienbaum, but we have three new thoughtful and talented people joining us.

Sean Gonsalves, Senior Reporter, Editor and Researcher

Sean Gonsalves is a longtime former reporter, columnist, and news editor with the Cape Cod Times. He is also a former nationally syndicated columnist in 22 newspapers, including the Oakland Tribune, Kansas City Star and Seattle Post-Intelligencer. His work has also appeared in the Boston Globe, USA Today, the Washington Post and the International Herald-Tribune. An award-winning newspaper reporter and columnist, Sean also has extensive experience in both television and radio. Sean has made appearances on WGBH’s “Greater Boston” TV show with Emily Rooney and was a frequent guest on New England Cable News (NECN), commentating on a variety of Cape Cod tourist attractions as well as making regular appearances on WCAI's weekly news round-up broadcast, "The Point with Mindy Todd."

He left print journalism in 2014 to work as a Senior Communication Consultant for Regan Communications and Pierce-Cote, advising a variety of business, non-profit and government agency clients on communication strategy. In October 2020, Sean joined the Institute for Local Self-Reliance staff as a Senior Reporter, Editor and Researcher.

Reach Sean by email at sgonsalves@ilsr.org

Maren Machles, Senior Researcher and Multimedia Producer

Maren Machles is coming from an investigative journalism background and has spent her career digging into the finances and backgrounds of powerful political figures as well as the systemic oppression of a variety of marginalized communities. The combination of Machles’ studies in economics as an undergrad at Ohio University, and her time reporting in under-resourced communities, has fueled her understanding that fast, affordable broadband access is an absolute necessity for the equity of all Americans. 

She was a recipient of the 2020 Robert F. Kennedy...

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Posted March 3, 2021 by Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

We’ve been having a lot of conversations with cities and communities recently looking for solutions to bridging the digital divide. If you’re new to the broadband space and looking for guidance on short- and long-term results, here’s a good place to start. Christopher joined the Michigan Moonshot's Community Education series recently with a presentation titled “A Community Guide to Solving the Digital Divide.”

It breaks down in an accessible way the key concepts, options, and costs to consider. Communities across the country face an array of situations in bridging the broadband gap, including city size, the scope of the problem, available infrastructure, existing ally organizations, and funding avenues.

Christopher covers all of these, as well as inventorying local resources and talent, energizing community officials, and how important it is to define success early on in the process.

His presentation also includes as examples a lot of the gap-network successes we’ve seen over the last year, including San Rafael, California, Providence, Rhode Island, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and Tucson, Arizona. Read about those stories to learn more about the goals set, challenges faced, and successes by local officials, nonprofit leaders, and residents in those cities.

Watch the webinar below, and be sure to stay tuned for the questions at the end.

Posted January 5, 2021 by Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) is a national nonprofit working to empower communities by striking at the roots of monopoly power. We use in-depth research, reporting, and data analysis to work with communities as well as produce influential reports and articles. Our analyses are frequently featured in national news media and sought out by policymakers. We work closely with a broad range of allies to move these ideas and policies.

ILSR is looking for a Broadband Writer/Researcher within the U.S. to join a growing team within ILSR focused on ensuring all Americans have fast, affordable, and reliable Internet access. This person will work with Sean Gonsalves and Ry Marcattilio-McCracken to develop research as well as create short- and long-form content focused on improving Internet access both in urban and rural areas. This might seem like a dry and technical issue, but it is a vibrant and exciting field that is also one of this generation’s biggest equity and justice challenges.

Check out the job duties and skills needed below.

Job responsibilities include:

  • Writing stories for MuniNetworks.org, a clearinghouse of the latest news, comprehensive reports, and statistics about community broadband networks.
  • Writing and collaborating with the team on larger reports.
  • Managing research ongoing on the cities and cooperative that are building networks.
  • Monitoring an overwhelming number of Google alerts and other streams of information to keep track of local developments around community networks.
  • Working with the team to develop and review research projects and creative efforts to share our work.

A successful candidate is:

  • An exceptionally good writer with the ability to convey complex ideas in a clear and compelling way. Able to write quickly when needed.
  • Able to design, undertake, and complete original research with little direction on familiar topics.
  • Has experience with research and writing projects that make use of sources like news coverage, legislation, agency reports, municipal documents, etc.
  • Possesses a genuine enjoyment of collaboration with a willingness to give and receive honest feedback. Skilled at helping team members improve the articles they contribute.
  • Passionate about the ILSR’s mission of countering corporate monopolies and building community power.
  • ...
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Posted December 9, 2020 by Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

H. Trostle (they/them) is a project manager on the Community Broadband Networks team. They have a Master's in Urban and Environmental Planning from Arizona State University and a B.A. in Political Science and Classical Languages from Macalester College. At Arizona State University, Trostle focused on Indigenous Planning: their final applied project was for the Office of Navajo Government Development. Between degree programs, Trostle worked on the Community Broadband Networks team as a researcher from 2015 to 2018. Trostle is a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and grew up in a small town in northern Minnesota. They are especially interested in infrastructure issues and community development in rural areas.

Connect with them at htrostle [at] ilsr [dot] org.



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