Smart Community Sparks:

Project OVERCOME Team Lands a $20M Investment

Earlier this year together with the National Science Foundation and Schmidt Futures, we selected DigitalC as a Project OVERCOME grant recipient. While we expected remarkable results from their project pilot, which will use a combo of fiber and Siklu MultiHaul millimeter wave technology to connect an apartment community and surrounding homes to broadband, we did not anticipate that this would put them on a path to receiving a $20 million investment by the Jack, Joseph and Morton Supporting Mandel Foundation and the David and Inez Myers Foundation

“Cleveland’s DigitalC brought a complete package to the table in the NSF-US Ignite Project OVERCOME competition,” said Dr. Glenn Ricart, US Ignite’s Chief Technology Officer. “In addition to providing some of the highest wireless bandwidths to the homes of Greater Cleveland’s unserved and underserved, DigitalC provides training and access to devices to ensure that future-proof bandwidth can be put to immediate and productive use for critical priorities today while enabling scaling necessary for the needs of tomorrow.”  

DigitalC CEO Dorothy Baunach with staffers. Photo by Jim Kenny.


Through the new Mandel and Myers grants, DigitalC will expand capacity to provide access and accelerate adoption of its broadband connectivity infrastructure throughout the city and enable residents to leverage the technology for educational, health and economic opportunities. The Mandel Foundation committed $15M to increase organizational development and capacity. An additional $5M was pledged by Mandel and Myers to help DigitalC empower Cleveland residents via wraparound services to put the technology quickly to use. 

Among all U.S. cities with 100,000 or more households, Cleveland has the highest percentage of households without broadband Internet, according to the 2019 U.S. Census’ American Community Survey. This is precisely why the announcement of this sizable investment is welcome news.

Ohio’s Governor Mike DeWine commented:

“Investments in broadband are investments in Ohio’s future,” said DeWine. “As economic and educational opportunities are increasingly connected to technology and the internet, the commitment of the Mandel and Myers foundations to bring more widespread broadband access to Cleveland will go far to help ensure that citizens have access to the resources they need to succeed.” 

This investment enables DigitalC to expand its network from just six neighborhoods to 34 and increase its subscriber base to well beyond the current 1,000+ households. US Ignite congratulates DigitalC for securing these funds and for working toward bridging the digital divide in greater Cleveland. 

Read the Full Announcement