May 4, 2021


Land O'Lakes, Inc. unveils American Connection Corps



Land O'Lakes, Inc. has announced last month the formation of a new programme for leaders in the United States aimed at a 'boots-on-the-ground' effort to boost local internet connectivity and the benefits it provides.


The programme, the American Connection Corps, will be led in conjunction with Lead for America (LFA) and funded through the support of Heartland Forward and 19 additional partner organisations. Applications have opened for a two-year, full-time paid fellowship.


50 fellows will serve in US public-serving institutions in their hometowns and will be empowered to serve as community leaders focused specifically on connectivity.


"Millions of families are operating day-to-day with a lack of basic infrastructure — adequate broadband access — that has become a necessity in today's world and, frankly, a fundamental right. Action cannot wait," said Beth Ford, Land O'Lakes, Inc's president and chief executive officer. "Through our years-long work on broadband advocacy and conversations with our farmers, our customers and so many others, we've seen and heard firsthand how critical digital infrastructure is to the success of communities and businesses across America. From everyday life to prospering in a global economy, investing and focusing on this issue now will pay dividends."


Through its proven Homecomers model, LFA will run the American Connection Corps as a separate track under its broad Fellows programme. LFA will select, train and place leaders in two-year, full-time paid fellowships with local institutions (local governments, nonprofits and community foundations) to tackle tough challenges facing the community, strengthen their hometown's civic infrastructure and join a new generation of transformational community leaders.


"Our work has shown that we can change the narrative that success means leaving home for good, and instead that leaders can create meaningful impact in their hometowns," said Benya Kraus, co-founder of LFA.


"We are excited to put true grassroots — person-to-person outreach — in communities across the heartland to connect their residents to high-speed internet and ensure everyone can enjoy full access to essential online services," said Angie Cooper, chief programme officer for Heartland Forward, a leading partner on the American Connection Corps initiative.


Ford added: "This programme would not be happening without the support of organisations joining with us; I'm so grateful to these partners who also recognise that together… we can take bold steps now to help solve these challenges, to help create the future and to benefit us all in our ever-connected world."


The American Connection Corps is launching with funding from 20 partner organisations, including Heartland Forward, CoBank, Tractor Supply Company, Microsoft, Mayo Clinic, Ariel Investments, Scoular, CHS, Zoetis, Tillamook, Accenture, University of Minnesota, the American Farm Bureau Federation, Midwest Dairy, Purdue University, Partners for Education, CentraCare, Common Sense Media and University of Illinois Extension.


- Land O'Lakes