THE POINT CDC has been named one of the Citi Foundation’s 2018 Community Progress Makers. THE POINT joins nonprofit organizations from around the country who are committed to driving economic opportunities in their communities. As a member of the 2018 Community Progress Makers cohort, THE POINT will receive $500,000 award, which will be used to sustain our soon-to-be constructed community WiFi project: Free Hunts Point Community WiFi.
In 2013, the American Community Survey (ACS) showed that the South Bronx including Hunts Point has the highest percentage of households without broadband at 36%, compared to 21% in Manhattan. Hunts Point is the home to the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center, which distributes food to over 23 million people in metro region and is among the poorest communities in the city. The area’s vulnerability to sea level rise and flooding presents a tremendous risk to both the 13,000 residents and the market, affecting virtually all of the NYC metro area. Led by the POINT, the community is now taking on the challenges of both the digital divide and climate change by building a community-led, resilient, wireless mesh network.
The POINT launched the creation and planning of the Free Hunts Point Community WiFi network in 2016 through a partnership with New America’s Resilient Communities. The network has passed environmental review and is slated to begin construction in the coming weeks. There will be 15 sites on the Hunts Point Peninsula, including 12 local business that are impacted by Sandy, that will broadcast the signal. It will be free to use for community residents and since it is built with resilient technologies it will serve as a back-up communication system in the event of a power outage. A unique element of the community Wi-Fi network is our Digital Stewardship project which teaches local residents the technical skills to construct and maintain the network, as well as create digital content. With funds from the Citi Foundation, THE POINT will create a sustainable business plan for community ownership of the network, will offer technical resources and support for local businesses, and will expand the Digital Stewardship program.