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As many of you know, CIRA's interests in the Canadian Internet extend beyond the .CA domain alone. We have a long legacy of giving back to our community and a key plank of CIRA's efforts in this regard is our Community Investment Program. The program provides resources to non-profit organizations in Canada to help them create programs, services, or original research that responds to the needs of a rapidly changing digital landscape.

We've just announced the third round of funding through the program and I'm pleased to welcome another 24 partner organizations into the CIRA community.

This latest funding is coming at an important time. We're seeing a national debate start on access to quality Internet. Canadians have serious concerns about the ability of low-income Canadians to access online services, and there is an emerging consensus that digital literacy needs to take an expanded role in our curriculum.

There are non-profit organizations and academic leaders across Canada working on these issues and we're pleased that CIRA can support their work. Many of the organizations we have funded in the past, such as the Kitikmeot Heritage Society and the First Mile Connectivity Consortium, have told us that CIP funding was critical to the success of their project and I know from talking to project leaders that they are making a real difference in the communities they serve.

With this latest announcement, CIRA has invested over $3 million through the community investment program, funding 78 projects from coast, to coast, to coast.

While the criteria for the program have remained consistent, the projects this year are as diverse, creative, and innovative as ever. I can't speak to all 24 projects here, but I do encourage you to check out the full list online. There are a few examples that I wanted to highlight.

The North Island College Centre for Applied Research Technology and Innovation is starting the NICBotCamp program, which will help youth build their science, technology, engineering and math skills by providing robotics camps throughout the North Island and giving students with access to online robotics equipment from home.

Promoting Education and Community Health (PEACH) is creating an innovation hub prototype program that will help bring low-cost access to digital and internet opportunities to the Jane Finch Community. This will offer an opportunity for low-income residents to access the internet and the digital world. The program will be run by youth who can also build transferable skills in repair and business development.

CompuCorps Mentoring is developing a 12-week program to increase digital literacy and expose the Aboriginal community to IT sector career options. 100 women from different Aboriginal communities in Ottawa and the surrounding area will directly benefit from the initiative when the course is completed.

Each year we are humbled by the work that our community investment partners are able to achieve and the creative ideas they have to serve their communities using digital technology. In our small way we're helping to build new skills, improve Internet access, and help Canadians better navigate their digital world.

You can find the full announcement online here

Byron Holland

Driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and a passion for Internet governance, Byron’s leadership has brought CIRA to the forefront of innovation. At CIRA, Byron has led a wholesale rewrite of the .CA registry and related policies and business rules. Under Byron’s leadership, CIRA has expanded its product and service offerings to Canadians and .CA has become one of the fastest growing country code top-level domains (ccTLD) in the world.

Byron has developed a strong international profile for CIRA and the .CA top-level domain. He is vice-chair of the Country Codes Name Supporting Organization (ccNSO), the body that represents the interests of all country code top-level domains and leads policy development initiatives at ICANN, and is Chair of ICANN’s Customer Standing Committee (CSC). Byron is also an active participant in the United Nations coordinated Internet Governance Forum.

Byron received a Bachelor of Arts with Honours from the University of Western Ontario and a Master of Business Administration from Queen’s University. He also holds his ICD.D designation from the Institute of Corporate Directors.

The views expressed in this blog are Byron’s opinions on Internet-related issues, and are not necessarily those of the organization.