20 Years of Service

Connected Nation believes that everyone should have opportunities to improve their lives, families, and communities regardless of who they are, where they live, and how they begin.

As we mark 20 years of service in 2021, Connected Nation is celebrating the progress made in closing the Digital Divide and marking major milestones over the last two decades. At the same time, the nonprofit we will explore the work that still needs to be done and the solutions for connecting more people and communities to broadband—a critical need that was felt by millions of individuals and families during the pandemic.

Who still lacks broadband (high-speed internet) in 2021?

Million Americans
Percent of low income families
Percent of rural residents
million school-aged children

Meet the people who have fought to close the Digital Divide and learn how that work has helped communities and families across the US.

Impact Stories

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Connected Nation Timeline

  1. The Center for Information Technology Enterprise, Inc. (CITE) was founded at Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, KY. To promote technology expansion in Kentucky.

  2. CITE evolved into the ConnectKentucky program, a public-private initiative to conduct mapping and planning to spur broadband expansion in the Commonwealth.

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    No Child Left Offline (now known as Computers 4 Kids or ECO) was established to provide computer and technology access to disadvantaged families, libraries, schools, and community centers.

  4. The Appalachian Regional Commision (ARC) granted $900,000 to ConnectKentucky in support of the statewide broadband initiative, Prescription for Innovation. The funds were used to support ConnectKentucky's efforts toward the expansion of broadban infrastructure and technology adoption throughout the Appalachian region.

  5. ConnectKentucky completed the grassroots community level project preparing a Strategic Technology Planning blueprint for all 120 of Kentucky's counties. Broadband availability increased from 60 percent to 95 percent of households in the state.

  6. Based on the successes of ConnectKentucky, neighboring state officials requested the formation of the Connected Tennessee and Connect Ohio programs under the umbrella of the newly formed Connected Nation parent organization.

  7. Connect Kentucky's efforts were featured in an article, Wiring Rural America, in The Economist. The article highlighted ConnectKentucky's public-private partnership model in expanding broadband availibity in the state of Kentucky.

  8. No Child Left Offline (now known as Computers 4 Kids or ECO) was established to provide computer and technology access to disadvantaged families, libraries, schools and community centers.

  9. ConnectKentucky was honored with the 2008 Susan G. Hadden Pioneer Award presented by the Alliance for Public Technology (APT), which honors individuals and organizations that advocate for widespread public access to advanced telecommunications.

  10. In a Wall Street Journal article recognizing Kentucky as one of the world's seven outstanding economic development leaders, ConnectKentucky's efforts to bring high speed Internet (broadband) benefits to every Kentuckian was featured.

  11. Connected Nation was chosen as the designated broadband mapping entity for 12 states and one territory under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act-funded Broadband Data Improvement Act: Alaska, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas.

  12. Connected Nation partnered with Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to work with public libraries in 20 states in a project called Opportunity Online, which brought together local libraries and community stakeholders to discuss and plan broadband sustainability efforts.

  13. Connected Nation CEO Brian Mefford was appointed to a two-year term on the MSC Malaysia International Advisory Panel (IAP). Chaired by the Malaysian Prime Minister, the IAP provides advice and counsel to the Malaysian Government to set and prepare the agenda for the way forward in the development and growth of the MSC Malaysia and the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) industry in Malaysia.

  14. Connect Ohio launched Every Citizen Online, which provides free computer training sessions at public libraries, community colleges, community organizations, and educational centers throughout Ohio.

  15. Connected Tennessee launched the computers 4 Kids BTOP grant, which is an effort to increase sustainable broadband adoption and provide computers and training to more than 60,000 disadvantaged youth across Tennessee.

  16. Connected Nation state initiatives contributed to the National Broadband map data that covered approximately 42% of the nation's landmass; reached 39.5 million household; and included more than 1,200 broadband service providers.

  17. In the fall, Connected Nation began piloting the Connected Community Engagement Program to provide a scalable and measurable framework for assessing and planning the expansion of broadband access, adoption and use at the community level. Learn more about the process at https://connectednation.hatfield.marketing/node/1757.

  18. Connected Nation was named a key strategic advisor and partner in a major national public-private broadband adoption initiative called "Connect to Compete" aimed at boosting digital literacy and skills training and job creation.

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    Connected Nation marked 10 years of connecting the nation.

  20. In April 2012, Connected nation unveiled its new and improved broadband mapping and analytics tool called My ConnectView. Learn more at https://connectednation.hatfield.marketing/node/2137.

  21. In July 2012, Connected Nation launched an independent broadband consulting firm, 10/20 Digital. 10/20 Digital provides broadband assessment, planning, and action strategies for companies, communities, and institutions seeking a more competitive approach to broadband-based growth.

  22. With dozens of communities involved in the Connected Community Engagement Program, Connected Nation recognized Charlevoix county, Michigan as the first certified Connected community in the nation.

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  23. June 2013-Connected Nation launched into the education technology space with Edified to form programs and partnerships that increase the deployment of the latest mobile technology, robust wireless connectivity, education apps, and twenty-first, century teaching practices in America's K-12 schools, colleges, and universities.

  24. June 2013-Connected Nation, through its Connect Ohio subsidiary, launched an innovative telework training and placement program called Digital Works: Connecting People & Jobs, to support community revitalization and job growth. Learn more at https://connectednation.hatfield.marketing/digitalworkslaunch.

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  25. Connected Nation set a new standard in community technology planning and development with the release of the Spartanburg, South Carolina, Connected Community Engagement assessment and action plan. Enhanced methodology and innovative data collection provide comprehensive research and plans that are unmatched in the industry. More than 300 communities across 7 states have particitpated in the Connected Community Engagement Program.

  26. Connected Nation marked more than 300 communities across 7 states participating in the Connected Community Engagement Program.

  27. Digital Works celebrated its 800th job placement of graduates. The program is in six states.

  28. Connected Nation's subsidiary, Connect Ohio, is cited in a study from Ohio State University entitled Connecting the Dots of Ohio's Broadband Policy. The study points to Connect Ohio as the best option for the state to coordinate broadband expansion to more Ohioans.

  29. Connected Nation completed drive testing for the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), identifying gaps in coverage that can impact public safety.

  30. Connected Nation testified before the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology to explain why a clearinghouse is needed to ensure better broadband mapping. Click here to learn more about the hearing.

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  31. The 2017 Broadband Visionary Award is presented Iowa governor and U.S. ambassador to China, Terry Branstad. The governor worked to bring broadband accessibility and was among the first in the nation to establish a state broadband communications network.

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  32. Connected Nation completed its largest Connected Community Engagement, covering eight counties in NW Pennsylvania. Learn more.

  33. Connected Nation launches its Digital Works program in the Fort Knox area with a focus on helping military spouses and veterans. Learn more.

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  34. At the request of the governor, Connected Nation Michigan provides leadership in the development of the Michigan Broadband Roadmap, a plan to more effectively close the Digital Divide cross the state. Learn more.

  35. The Connected Community Engagement Program marked its 25,000th survey completed and began work in the state of Alabama, marking entrance into a new state for Connected Nation.

  36. Connected Nation takes its mission international by sending a representative to take part in a week-long exchange program dubbed “Getting Connected New Zealand Outbound.” The program was sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Office of Citizen Exchanges and organized by World Learning. Learn more.

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  37. The 2019 Broadband Visionary Award is presented to Colonel M. Blaine Hedges, USA (Retired) for his efforts to help military spouses and veterans with the launch of Digital Works program at Fort Knox. This prestigious, national award recognizes individuals who demonstrate exceptional and innovative leadership in the application of broadband and its related technologies. Learn more.

  38. Connected Nation Texas names new state program director and re-launches statewide effort to close the Digital Divide with support from the Rural Texas Funders. Learn more.

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  39. Connected Nation provides a plan to Alaska leaders for improving the broadband landscape across the state. This is entitled “A Blueprint for Alaska’s Broadband Future”

  40. Connected Nation publishes the third Utah School Technology Inventory Report detailing progress made in Utah’s schools to better connect classrooms, teachers, and students.

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  41. Updated broadband coverage maps released for every Texas County for the first time since 2015; public and provider feedback requested. Follow up maps were released in July 2020 and December 2020. Learn more.

  42. Connected Nation Michigan publishes the groundbreaking telehealth study entitled: “Healthcare From Anywhere: Telehealth Use & Perceptions.” This study examines the challenges and opportunities for telehealth just weeks before the pandemic begins. A series of webinars, PSA’s, and free resources were produced throughout 2020 in response to the growing need for telehealth.

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  43. Connected Nation develops and publishes free telehealth, telework, low-cost internet providers, and other broadband-related resources for individuals, families, communities, and state leaders in response to the coronavirus pandemic. These include Community and State Connectivity Covid-19 Response plans.

  44. Digital Works completes its first all-virtual class in response to the coronavirus pandemic and expands its Fort Campbell classes to all Kentucky veterans, military spouses, and spouses of veterans. Learn more.

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  45. The 2020 Broadband Visionary Award is presented Robin Ancona, Director, Telecommunications Division, Michigan Public Service Commission (MPSC) for her tireless work to better connect communities across the state. This prestigious, national award recognizes individuals who demonstrate exceptional and innovative leadership in the application of broadband and its related technologies. Learn more.

  46. Digital Works celebrates its 1,000 job placement when Army veteran, Courtney Anaeki, secures a position. Anaeki went through training via the Fort Campbell Digital Works facility. Past students, facilitators, partners, Kentucky’s Governor and the Second Lady of the United States, Karen Pence, took part in the celebration. Learn More.

  47. Connected Nation’s Digital Works program is honored with a Gold Rank for its Digital Works Website, a project in the category of Special Purpose Website of the International Economic Development Council (IEDC). The group’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards recognize the world’s best economic development programs and partnerships, marketing materials, and the year’s most influential leaders.

  48. Connected Nation, in partnership with Funds For Learning, launches Connect K-12, a free website that provides internet speed and pricing transparency information to help schools identify broadband solutions and negotiate better deals for services—with the objective of helping schools achieve the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) school bandwidth goal of 1 Mbps per student in every school nationwide.  Learn More.

  49. Connected Nation Texas (CN Texas) awards the first Texas Broadband Hero Award to Teresa Burnett, the Executive Director of the Monahans Chamber of Commerce, for her work to expand broadband (high-speed internet) access, adoption, and use across parts of rural Texas. Learn more about her.

  50. Connected Nation launches and acts as administrator for the AT&T K-12 connected homework gap program, which is focused on helping at-risk students access remote learning by providing free AT&T wireless internet service and mobile Wi-Fi hotspots to students nationwide. The program provided services to nonprofit organizations and schools that serve at-risk youth nationwide.

  51. Connected Nation celebrates 20 years of service. The national nonprofit was founded in Bowling Green, Kentucky on February 13, 2001 as the Center for Information Technology Enterprise, Inc. to promote technology expansion.