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WESTERN MASS. — State legislators, the Franklin Regional Council of Governments, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, and the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission will conclude a five-part series of virtual information sessions on available state and federal funding on Tuesday, Dec. 13 from 3 to 4 p.m., with a briefing by the Massachusetts Broadband Institute about funding available to municipalities for closing the digital divide. Sessions are geared toward municipal leaders.

Through these workshops, organizers have sought to increase capacity and local understanding of grant-funding opportunities available from the state and federal governments and to increase the number of successful grant applications on a range of issues from economic development to the arts to climate resilience — and beyond.

“The intent of this grant series is to provide small and rural municipal staff and officials with information about state grant sources and, importantly, give our communities the opportunity to ask questions directly of funders,” said Linda Dunlavy, executive director of the Franklin Regional Council of Governments.

State Sen. Jo Comerford added that “we are delighted that this workshop series has helped break down barriers so that Western Mass. municipal leaders have as much support as possible to access critical and well-deserved state funding. We will absolutely return in the next session to build on and expand this work.”

State Rep. Natalie Blais noted that “workshops like this, offered with the partnership and support of our state partners, provide communities with the information necessary to identify funding streams and increase their likelihood of success.”

These sessions have been co-planned by the offices of Blais, Comerford, and state Sens. Anne Gobi, Adam Gomez, Adam Hinds, Eric Lesser, and John Velis, and co-hosted by the Western Mass. state legislative delegation.

The final workshop on Dec. 13 will feature the Massachusetts Broadband Institute (MBI), which will discuss the conditions that exacerbate the digital divide, new digital equity programs recently launched by MBI, and the federal funding landscape for broadband and digital-equity investments in the Commonwealth. Workshop attendees will hear about the importance of municipal digital-equity plans and the opportunity for towns and cities to access digital-equity planning support through MBI’s Municipal Digital Equity Planning Program.

Starting this past April, the group of regional planning agencies and legislators organized four previous workshops focused on the Community One Stop for Growth grant program, federal and state transportation grant opportunities , energy and environmental grant opportunities, and cultural, historical, and technological grant opportunities. More than 175 municipal leaders from the four western counties registered for the workshop series, with approximately 70 people joining each workshop and more than 100 people viewing each workshop recording.

The group is looking to host another grant series in the new year, which will again aim to bring together municipal leaders and state funders while also including additional opportunities available to nonprofits and available federal funds.

All municipal officials and municipal committee members are welcome to register for the final session by clicking here. All sessions are also recorded.

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