News Release

UTIA and AT&T partner to provide rural Tennessee with digital literacy training

New training program targets rural communities to address digital literacy needs

Grant and Award Announcement

University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture

Digital Literacy check


Alan Hill, regional director with AT&T Services, Inc., second from left, presents a check for $100,000 to establish the Tennessee Broadband Digital Literacy Training Program. Standing with him to accept the gift on behalf of the University of Tennessee are from left, Bill Johnson, interim head of the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics; Stephanie Eastman Vozar, UT director of corporate philanthropy; Sreedhar Upendram, associate professor with the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics; and Justin Rhinehart, assistant dean of UT Extension.

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Credit: UTIA

In a digital age, access to broadband is essential for many of everyday modern tasks. However, for many in rural Tennessee, broadband is still out of reach.

The University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture is teaming up with AT&T Foundation to address the challenge of broadband access and education through the Tennessee Broadband Digital Literacy Training Program.

“Through the partnership with AT&T Foundation, the digital literacy program will engage, invest and train citizens in skills that improves broadband adoption, says Sreedhar Upendram, associate professor in agricultural and resource economics at UT. “This program aims to address the digital divide by strengthening partnerships with local businesses, entrepreneurs, senior centers and the labor force across 42 communities in Tennessee.”

The AT&T Foundation presented a check for $100,000 on September 7 to kickstart the project. The digital literacy program will provide training workshops in 42 rural counties across the state of Tennessee.

“The men and women of AT&T are committed to the communities across Tennessee where we live and work, and our commitment goes beyond expanding and enhancing our broadband networks,” said Joelle Phillips, president, AT&T Tennessee. “We are also committed to supporting critical programs – like UT’s Digital Literacy Training Program – that are building stronger communities and better futures.”

Thanks to the support of AT&T, UT Extension will be able to provide hands-on training for those in economically distressed counties who have limited or no access to broadband internet. This program will create access to jobs, skills, and educational programs for digitally disconnected residents.

Through its land-grant mission of research, teaching, and extension, the University of Tennessee Institute of Agriculture touches lives and provides Real. Life. Solutions.

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