$1 million USDA grant awarded to West Hills CCD
for broadband cooperative formation
Project director recruitment underway
The West Hills Community College District (WHCCD) has received a $1 million federal grant that will play a pivotal role in establishing the Rural Broadband Initiative Cooperative Network (RuBICON), a project aimed at providing affordable broadband services to rural communities and farms in the Central Valley.
The district, a Central Valley Higher Education Consortium (CVHEC) institution member, announced the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) award Feb. 21 as well as a search for a project director for RuBICON, which aims to empower local communities by forming a cooperative that delivers reliable and cost-effective broadband access, bridging the digital divide in the rural Central Valley.
The district said this groundbreaking endeavor draws inspiration from the historic electric co-op movement, envisioning equitable change and progress for rural America in the 21st century.
Jeff Seed, WHCCD associate vice chancellor of Information Technology, emphasized the broader impact of this grant, stating, “This is not just about broadband access – it’s about fostering sustainable farming, building robust local economies, and empowering our rural communities for the digital future.”
In a social media post, Chancellor Kristen Clark, who is also CVHEC Board of Directors chair, said, “Excited about this opportunity for the West Hills Community College District to help support high-speed broadband on the Westside of the Central Valley.”
Project RuBICON has garnered support from a diverse coalition of partners committed to assessing and delivering connectivity to rural communities in the Central Valley. The initiative will collect comprehensive data to understand current needs and identify solutions to address connectivity gaps. In addition to infrastructure development, West Hills will offer digital literacy education for local communities and leverage its Farm of the Future to create a framework for agricultural technologists, propelling the community toward Agriculture 4.0.
“This project is designed to facilitate cost-effective broadband deployment, with the goal of serving as a model that can be replicated across the country,” Seed added.
For WHCCD media inquiries, contact Amber Myrick at 559.934.2132 or email@example.com.