Broadband internet access has become a public health battle in underserved communities across the country and calls into question how it is used for healthcare purposes.
Morris Clark — a former treasurer of Marathon Oil — and Otis Ellis — a former JPMorgan Chase executive — both teamed up to develop an infrastructure fund called the Epiphany Community Impact Fund to help communities in rural and urban states gain more access to broadband.
To invest in these underserved communities and assist them in getting the resources they need to thrive, Clark and Ellis are attempting to bridge the U.S. digital gap.
“The recent problems due to COVID-19 and the social unrest highlighting police brutality and racial discrimination has only augmented the deficiencies in urban and rural communities,” Ellis said, according to Black Enterprise.
The newly launched fund arrives as COVID-19 has tremendously increased the need for major broadband legislation, exposing the lack of high-speed internet access in homes across America.
According to The Wall Street Journal, pressing the issue of access to home broadband has been stalled for years in Congress.
With the Epiphany Community Impact Fund — which is financed through private capital — Clark and Ellis’ venture will be able to address Americans’ need to have affordable broadband internet, especially during a time where most resources and outlets are pivoting to virtual setups.
“We are focusing on the full spectrum of infrastructure shortcomings that have resulted from a systemic lack of investment in underserved communities,” shared Ellis and Clark with Black Enterprise. “We are currently considering opportunities in broadband access and reliability, as well as transportation and education infrastructure.”
The motivation for this impact fund was born out of Ellis and Clark’s desire to serve community needs that have been otherwise ignored for the last few years.
“As we approach 2021, there are still urban and rural communities that are effectively ‘broadband deserts’. As a result of the lack of investment by both the governmental and private sectors, there is not sufficient infrastructure in place to provide these communities with consistent access to reliable, full-scale broadband,” the two said. “With access to adequate capital, these communities will be able to work toward reducing/eliminating the digital divide which will translate to better educational, economic, and entrepreneurial outcomes.”
For more information on the Epiphany Community Impact Fund, click here.