To do its part in that mission, OneCommunity handles all of the design work for the fiber optic installations and then partners with third parties (that manage the construction work) to implement the fiber that gets laid across Northeastern Ohio. A nonprofit organization, OneCommunity also has a portfolio of programming activities designed to train, educate, and enable the individuals who use those networks.

Signing Them Up

According to Gonick, OneCommunity currently works with 800 organizations (i.e., “subscribers”) that pay for the bandwidth access and/or fiber connection. On the K-12 education side, the group connects about 50 different schools systems that work through partner consortiums to acquire the access. “Those consortia pay us for their fiber and they, in turn, connect the schools to the fiber,” Gonick explains. “The consortia then charge the schools for their [usage].”

The Cleveland Metropolitan School District is a OneCommunity partner that turned to the organization for help supporting a one-to-one Nook initiative. Funded by a local philanthropic agency, the initiative found OneCommunity providing the increased Internet access — so students could have up to date e-textbooks on their devices — along with training and support. In addition, OneCommunity has provided videoconferencing technologies and teacher training/support at the district’s early college program, John Hay School. New at the time, the school was “poor performing,” according to Gonick. In 2014, John Hay School’s early college program was ranked as the top science school in the state of Ohio, based on state graduation test results. “All of the school’s curriculum leverages the broadband network,” said Gonick, “so the [district] considers us one of their important champions and ambassadors.”

Right now, OneCommunity is working on a 7-city collaboration that will support science, technology, math, and engineering (STEM) education, with a primary focus on computer science. “These seven cities very much like what they see and hear taking place in Cleveland, and have asked us to help organize this multi-city collaboration,” Gonick explains. “This upcoming school year, we’ll be piloting a multi-city, STEM education [effort] that’s focused on computer science.”

Next page: Bringing broadband into homes