We Need More Programs Like Project OVERCOME

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One of the very first programs I managed upon my arrival at US Ignite in 2021 was Project OVERCOME. We selected six communities to pilot advanced wireless and community broadband adoption programs through a rigorous solicitation and review process. The grant period ended in December 2022, and we heard some remarkable success stories from the OVERCOME communities. As communities prepare to manage the unprecedented influx of billions of dollars in Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) funding, I find myself reflecting on the need for more programs like Project OVERCOME to effectively bridge the digital divide in unserved and underserved communities across the US. The Project OVERCOME features that were effective in bridging the digital divide in the participating communities are as follows:

  • Bridging the capacity gap: Through Project OVERCOME, US Ignite acted as a lean project management office. We worked closely with teams to enhance and build their technical and management capacity and offered timely assistance to resolve deployment and adoption challenges.
  • Experimental and experiential: We focused on maximizing learnings that could be shared widely with communities across the US. We conducted a survey to measure the social impact of Project OVERCOME on participating communities.
  • Diversity & Representation matters: Project OVERCOME required teams to represent diverse backgrounds and ensure inclusivity in thoughts, actions, and existence. Each team consisted of an engineer, a researcher, a social scientist, a local government representative, and a community organizer. Together, they worked to implement the pilot on the ground. 
  • Building partnerships: We selected teams that had strong community partnerships and demonstrated their ability to nurture future partnerships. Additionally, we helped communities identify and forge partnerships to ensure the sustainability of their broadband project beyond OVERCOME.
  • Community empowerment: Project OVERCOME was all about the community-first approach. Each team created a shared vision for their community by engaging in several dialogues with community representatives and community members. 
  • Compassionate leadership: Each OVERCOME team was led by a leader with a track record of serving their community with unwavering determination and compassion.

We need more programs like Project OVERCOME