Grant Narrative

1998 Nebraska Information Technology Commission

PROJECT NARRATIVE

Background: Project InterLinc was originally established in 1995 by a federal grant award from the Department of Commerce, National Telecommuni- cations and Information Administration. (NTIA) Project InterLinc was recognized by NTIA as one of the best public access projects in 1996 and was featured in a live demonstration at the 1996 Grant Award's Ceremony in Washington, D.C. InterLinc continues to serve all the citizens of Lincoln and Lancaster County by making local government services available via the Internet and by providing free access to those services. InterLinc's network of 35 public access terminals at 26 locations includes eleven rural sites throughout Lancaster County.

(1) Please describe the proposed project. Include goals and time-lines.

Project InterLinc proposes to coordinate, support, and enhance services to all twelve (12) incorporated rural communities in Lancaster County by establishing a formal partnership between six rural public high schools, two corporate sponsors, and the Information Services Division of the City of Lincoln. All six high schools have agreed to adopt the villages in their school district and have also committed themselves to provide each village with an in depth web site presence that will be created and maintained entirely by the students. Each high school administrator and technology coordinator has enthusiastically accepted this concept and one has stated that they will incorporate this projects activity into their core Internet curriculum. In turn, elected officials from each village have been contacted and they have unanimously endorsed the partnerships with the schools. The Information Services Division would conduct the appropriate workshops and training sessions necessary to establish technical standards and working relationships with our staff. Information Services will provide the technical assistance, web site hosting, and web site administration for all 12 villages.

We propose that the high schools receive $1,200 for each adopted village in their district. This payment will compensate students for the initial creation and the 12 months support of each village web site. It has been our experience that leaving control at the local level on issues like content development and community standards have rendered the best results. We propose that all grant funds be dispersed by the grant administrator, to the school officials, who will distribute the money to the student organizations by participation level. (computer, journalism, photography clubs, ect.)

The Lancaster County Commissioners have also authorized any time spent by students on this project to be considered service to the community and would qualify for public service credits, if the school has such a program in place.

It is significant to note that none of the grant funds will be used to purchase equipment or supplement circuit charges. Aliant's 50% reduction in service rates coupled with Lancaster County cash will cover all infrastructure expenses. Grant funds will be used exclusively for student club reimbursement and time spent by the Information Services staff for grant administration, training, and support.

Goals and Time Lines:
Workshops and Training   Nov.  1, 1998  -  Nov. 30, 1998
Village Web Sites        Dec. 1, 1998   -  Feb.   1, 1999
Support Web Sites        Feb.  1, 1999  -  Nov.   1, 1999

(2) What public entity, or entities, will administer the grant dollars?

The Information Services Division will be responsible for all grant administration, grant funds, and project management. Information Services is a division of the City of Lincoln's Finance Department. We support technical and data processing needs for both the City of Lincoln and Lancaster County. Information Services has successfully administered a similar federal grant for Project InterLinc in 1995 -1997. Mr. Terry Lowe, Systems Project Manager will be the grant administrator for this project as he was for the original InterLinc project.

(3) Who are the other partners or collaborators? Describe the role each plays in the grant.

Aliant Communications will partner with InterLinc to provide infrastructure and ISP services for the 11 rural communities. They will make an in-kind contribution of approximately $12,260 by reducing 56k circuit charges and ISP charges by 50% for the 12 month grant period. Contact Person: Mr. Doug Harris, Marketing Manager - Data Communications

Lancaster County Commissioners will contribute $ 12,260 in cash to match Aliant Communications in-kind contribution to completely fund the infrastructure costs of the project. Contact Person: Mr. Kerry Eagan, Chief Administrative Officer

Information Analytics Inc. will partner with InterLinc to provide Internet consulting services. I.A. has also expressed an interest in participating in the training sessions. I.A. will make a $1,200 cash contribution to be used for student reimbursement in the creation of village web sites. Contact Person: Mr. Mark Dahmke, Vice President

Rural High Schools   Adopted Villages
Crete High School   : Denton, Hallam, Sprague.
Malcolm High School : Malcolm
Norris High School  : Firth, Hickman, Panama, Roca.
Palmyra High School : Bennet
Raymond High School : Davey, Raymond
Waverly High School : Waverly

Information Services Division of the City of Lincoln will provide training, technical support, web site hosting / administration, and grant administration. Contact Person: Mr. Terry Lowe, Systems Project Manager

(4) Please identify the geographical area served by this project.

This project will initially focus on communities in Lancaster County only. We believe that the other incorporated villages outside Lancaster County, but within the 6 school districts could eventually be served.

(5) How does this project address the major purpose of the grant fund. (Citizen tele-literacy and community economic development.)

Foundational to improving tele-literacy and the ability to leverage technology towards community economic development opportunities, is the need for a reliable, supported communications infrastructure and access to the Internet. As stated in the project description, InterLinc does not seek grant funds for this type of support. However, a grant approved project like InterLinc does allow us to establish the corporate partnerships necessary to keep that essential bandwidth and original hardware investment in place for all the villages without them incurring any cost.

It should be noted that 10 villages are already equipped with a 56k 12 port router, Pentium PC and printer.(Roca uses 28.8 dial-up) InterLinc has only required 1 port for public access and has and will continue to encourage the use of the remaining ports for privately installed Internet enabled hardware. Some of the villages have already taken advantage of this environment and have invested local dollars to add additional PC's. This concept was introduced in the original InterLinc project as a way to get local participation in the building of Technical Learning Centers.

We believe that a dynamically built and maintained web site will help promote local economic development opportunities. Each web site will have up to 12 categories that they can promote. As an example, the Calendar of Events section will help support tourism by listing local festivals and interesting activities. All local businesses will be listed in business directory. Statistical information about the villages and local business opportunities could be promoted.

(6) How is this project innovative? We believe that engaging high school students with local elected officials and business leaders will have a long term positive impact on both the students and the villages. Since most of the students live in the villages they will be supporting, we believe there will be a vested interest in making their site the best of the twelve. This project also connects the students with experienced web masters and corporate partners. Aliant Communications has expressed an interest in establishing an intern program for experienced students as a direct result of this project. Information Analytics commented that "It gives us an opportunity to find new HTML coding talent".

This project is innovative because:

  1. It utilizes existing hardware and infrastructure investments.
  2. It eliminates the cost burden at the local level.
  3. It introduces and engages students in civic issues and responsibilities.
  4. It introduces new employment opportunities in the rural areas.

(7) How do you intend to measure the success of this program?

We believe that insuring the success of a project is accomplished by staying focussed on its goals and by the use of proven project management disciplines. We also believe, based on past performance, that the Information Services Division is well qualified to see that this project goes forward with a sense of urgency and importance.

We propose to measure and monitor this project by: (1) tracking the number of students and hours spent in (a) training, (b) web site activity. (2) monitoring the quality of the content and frequency of web site maintenance. (3) trending statistics on increased web site usage. (4) establishing and meeting project milestones. (Training, Development, Implementation) (5) remaining within the approved budget for the project.

(8) What plans have you made to insure the sustain-ability of this project?

Project InterLinc is in its third year of existence and is well beyond the original 18 month grant period. InterLinc, by Executive Order, is an officially recognized provider of government services for Lincoln and Lancaster County. We have hired full time staff and have an established budget each year for both City and County Internet activities. The partnership portion of the proposed project will be reviewed by the County Commissioners after 10 months to determine the success and continued funding. Likewise, Aliant Communications will consider renewing their in-kind contributions and continued support of the project based on its success.

(9) Are you aware of projects similar to this one, perhaps in other states that have succeeded?

Project InterLinc has always been a success story. The Department of Commerce has touted InterLinc as one of its best funded projects. InterLinc contributed to the first NTIA Lessons Learned' publication that documented examples on what makes a project successful. InterLinc was presented at the 1997 Governor's Conference on Information Technology as a Nebraska Success Story. InterLinc staff have been invited and participated in the 1998 NTIA Regional Workshop' that helped guide other projects on how to be successful.

InterLinc's proposal to coordinate and establish partnerships between students and rural communities is the first that we are aware of within a public access type of project. In that light, we believe that this project could serve as a cost effective model, and has the potential to be replicated throughout the State.

(10) Please Format you budget accordingly:

Activity - Grant - Cash Match - In-kind Match - Total

Briefly describe the in-kind match (example: 20 hours secretary time)

Activity    Budget       Grant     County    I.A.      Aliant
                         Request   Cash      Cash      In-kind

56k  (10)   20,400                10,200               10,200
ISP  (11)    4,120                 2,060                2,060
H.S. ( 6)   14,400      13,200              1,200
I.S.        10,320      10,320
            -------     -------   -------   ------    ---------
            49,240      23,520    12,260    1,200      12,260



56k  Service charges  for 10 circuits.
ISP  Navix  for (10) 56k accounts, (1) 28.8 account, and (12) e-mail accounts.
H.S.      Six Rural High Schools (12 villages @ 1,200 per web site).
I.S.      Information Services Staff
          Grant Administration      40 hrs
          Workshop / Training       80 hrs
          Technical Support        120 hrs
                                  ----------
                                   240 hrs @ 43.00

Project Name:     InterLinc Partnership

Contact Person:   Terry D. Lowe

Mailing address:  233 South 10th St.
                  Lincoln, NE 68508-2221

Phone:       (402) 441-7113
Fax:         (402) 441-6189
E-mail:      tlowe@lincoln.ne.gov

Grant Requested:  $23,520   Cash Match:  $13,460   In-Kind:     $12,260