The following paragraphs from the project proposal describe the need for this project:

Virginia's rural communities lag the rest of the state in terms of income, education, and wealth. Most of these rural communities are saddled with high rates of poverty, illiteracy, and unemployment when compared to more prosperous urban and suburban areas of Virginia. Even though many of these communities want to be connected to the Information Age economy, they struggle mightily to make the transition. They lack the local expertise necessary to be successful understanding and exploiting the opportunities available to them in this new environment. Furthermore, these communities are largely ignored by the major telecommunications service providers because the communities are deemed too small to recoup the investment required to upgrade services to a level that will make them competitive players in the new economy. Perhaps the most unfortunate thing is that these rural communities likely have hidden treasures (skills, knowledge, and abilities of people) that only need to be discovered and properly engaged.

Worn down by decades of deep poverty, a continuous outward migration of their brightest and best youth, and the destruction and loss of their local merchant class by chain stores (the Wal-Mart problem), these communities suffer from a leadership crisis. Existing aid programs ameliorate suffering but do not provide systemic solutions to move these communities up the economic and social ladder.

The rise of the Internet, coupled with the potential of having a high quality of life in rural communities, offer for the first time the promise that these communities can break the chains of geography. But there are several necessary conditions that must exist if these communities are going to succeed. It is very clear that injections of technology alone are not sufficient. These communities need comprehensive assistance in five areas:


In October 2001, the US Department of Commerce NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Administration) awarded a Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) grant to fund a proposal from the Blacksburg Electronic Village (BEV) titled 'Getting Rural Virginia Connected: A Vision for the Future,'. The proposal was developed during the summer of 2001 by Dr. Andrew Cohill (Director of the Blacksburg Electronic Village at that time) and Dr. John Dooley (Associate Director for Family and Consumer Sciences and Community Initiatives in Virginia Cooperative Extension at that time). The proposal called for the BEV to partner with Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) 'to help rural communities in Virginia develop the capacities needed to prosper in the Information Economy' . These counties were spread from Virginia's Eastern Shore to its western border with Kentucky and included, from east to west, Accomack and Northampton (the Virginia Eastern Shore), King and Queen, Louisa, Cumberland, Craig, Carroll, Grayson and Dickenson.

Unfortunately, the start of the project was delayed due to significant personnel turnover at Virginia Tech in early 2002. First, Dr. Dooley, the project leader for VCE, was assigned a new set of responsibilities as Interim Associate Provost for Outreach and therefore could not work on this project. About the same time Dr. Cohill resigned his position as the Director of the BEV. Budget reductions in Virginia resulted in the loss of VCE agents in several counties and new local leadership had to be identified before the project could move forward.

Early in the Spring of 2002, Dr. Eleanor Schlenker took over Dr. Dooley's responsibilities and Mathew Mathai was appointed Director of the BEV and Project Director for this project in June. In addition, Tabitha Combs resigned her position as TOP Project Coordinator and Jaime Shetrone took her place. The new project team met for the first time in June 2002 and work on the project finally got underway in July - nine months after the funding was awarded. By this time, Carroll and Grayson counties had completed large portions of the proposed effort with other funding. The project scope was modified in August 2003 to exclude Grayson and Carroll because, there were not sufficient time or resources to implement a modified project plan in these two counties.

Go to next page (model.php)

Policies  |  Site Map  |  TOP Home
Powered by BEV © BEV 2004. Note: External links will open in a new browser window.