Techlandia September 2017 - Page 37

Techlandia 35 Mozilla received project proposals from entrepreneurs, higher education institutions, researchers and other groups. Some of these included distance learning and telemedicine initiatives and partnerships between University of Oregon and entrepreneurs. “We want all the work we do...to arrive through a lens of inclusiveness and diversity.” Craig Wiroll, Eugene’s gigabit portfolio manager, said that for a group to receive funds its projects must take place in the greater Eugene area, utilize high-speed, low- latency fiber internet, and advance education or workforce development. “As long as projects are checking these three boxes, all ideas are fair game,” Wiroll said. “In the past, we’ve had things like cross-country robots programmed and operated in real- time, international simultaneous language immersion, real-time concert collaborations from thousands of miles apart, interactive digital town hall and city budget production, remote controlled greenhouses, and so much more.” Wiroll highlighted how the Gigabit Community Fund is helping Eugene make learning more inclusive and diverse. “We want all the work we do—from finding grantees and partners, to the projects themselves, to arrive through a lens of inclusiveness and diversity.” The Gigabit Community Fund has been focusing on finding local partners in Eugene to expand grant opportunities to diverse and wide-ranging audiences. To help motivate more groups to apply, fund organizers also have made the application more accessible to make the process feel less intimidating. “We want these projects to not only have a diverse range of topics across a variety of sectors; we want them to come from groups of all sizes and geographic areas, whether that’s Springfield, far west Eugene, downtown Eugene or the surrounding rural areas,” Wiroll explained. Through the Gigabit Community Fund, the Mozilla network is helping create meaningful partnerships between individuals, schools, and nonprofits in Eugene. “We work with local organizations that are experts at connecting with individuals from all sectors and groups, such as EugeneTech, Connected Lane County, Technology Association of Oregon, Eugene Education Foundation, and the University of Oregon,” Wiroll said. Wiroll thinks Eugene is an ideal match for this program not only because of its wired school districts and downtown business fiber corridor. “Eugene has a history of strong social activism and fought hard to get Mozilla here. I expect them to fight even harder to support the programs that evolve out of the Gigabit Community Fund, encourage the economic development of their community, and promote improvement projects that will potentially have a lasting impact on children, underserved communities and community members of all backgrounds.”