Young leaders

Land O’Lakes and a number of other organizations have formed the American Connection Corps, an initiative that will empower 50 young fellows who will work to boost broadband connectivity and its benefits in their communities. The paid full-time fellowships will be for two years.

Applications now are being accepted for the program, which is led by Land O’Lakes in conjunction with Lead for America (LFA) and funded by Heartland Forward and 19 other organizations.

The American Connection Corps will be run by LFA as a separate track under its Fellows Program. It will select, train and place fellows with local institutions such as local governments, non-profits and community foundations.

Launch funding organizations include Heartland Forward, CoBank, Tractor Supply Company, Microsoft, Mayo Clinic, Ariel Investments, Scoular, CHS, Zoetis, Tillamook, Accenture, University of Minnesota, the American Farm Bureau Federation, Midwest Dairy, Purdue University, Partners for Education, CentraCare, Common Sense Media and University of Illinois Extension.

“Millions of families are operating day-to-day with a lack of basic infrastructure – adequate broadband access – that has become a necessity in today’s world and, frankly, a fundamental right. Action cannot wait,” Land O’Lakes President and CEO Beth Ford said in a press release about the American Connection Corps. “Through our years-long work on broadband advocacy and conversations with our farmers, our customers and so many others, we’ve seen and heard firsthand how critical digital infrastructure is to the success of communities and businesses across America. From everyday life to prospering in a global economy, investing and focusing on this issue now will pay dividends.”

The deadline for applications for the American Connection Corps is May 15. The inaugural class will be announced in early June. More information is available at this link.

This is not the first Land O’Lakes initiative involving broadband. The company made two announcements last July. In one, it said that it was spearheading a coalition of business associations and other organizations aimed at garnering public and private sector investments for rural broadband.

About a week later, Microsoft said that it would work with Land O’Lakes to develop agricultural tools to enhance the food supply chain, expand sustainability practices for farmers and the food system and to close the rural broadband gap.

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