Connected Nation (CN) is honoring four organizations with the 2021 Broadband Visionary Award — KGW-TV in Portland, Oregon; Fort Bend Independent School District in Sugar Land, Texas; and, jointly, RFD-TV and the American Farm Bureau Federation in Washington, D.C. This prestigious national award recognizes those who demonstrate exceptional and innovative leadership in the application of broadband and related technologies.
"These organizations showed vision and forward-thinking by providing platforms for a national conversation on the Digital Divide that took place on November 17," said Tom Ferree, Chairman & CEO, Connected Nation. "Each location hosted panelists from myriad backgrounds to provide a truly all-encompassing look at how the lack of digital equity and the need for expanding digital inclusion is impacting our communities. Without the support and commitment of KGW-TV, Fort Bend ISD, RFD-TV, and the American Farm Bureau Federation, Connected Nation would not have been able to provide the broad, diverse, and inclusive representation that was needed for such an important and timely discussion."
Connected Nation is celebrating 20 years of service in 2021. As part of that celebration, the nonprofit organization hosted the national conversation on the Digital Divide. The free event, which featured live expert panels as well as stories from local schools, libraries, hospitals, and elsewhere, was broadcast live nationally via the internet from studios in Louisville, Kentucky.
"The Louisville location served as our main studios — a place where we took in live feeds from each panel location, handled all the graphics, and rolled videos," said Jessica Denson, Communications Director, Connected Nation. "Having live panels in different parts of the country was intentional so that we could have a truly national conversation on this issue, and so that we could get away from the stilted, online feel of meetings and conferences all of us have experienced during the pandemic. In addition, we chose an all-student-run location to acknowledge the challenges school districts face when it comes to remote learning. It's important to note that each group provided their facilities, staff, and time at no charge so that Connected Nation could make this event a reality."
The national rural network, RFD-TV, broadcast from its American Farm Bureau studios in Washington, D.C., which is why the two organizations are receiving a joint award; Fort Bend ISD in Sugar Land, Texas, was the only student-run location for the event; and KGW-TV is an Emmy award-winning NBC affiliate located in Portland, Oregon.