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AARP Oklahoma Awards Oklahoma State University $5,000 Grant for Rural Broadband Hotspot Library Program

OSU Hotspot Group Photo 2022.png
L-R: Diana Garrett, City of Hominy; Lindee DeRoin, Hominy Public Library; Jimmie Ratliff, City of Hominy; Dr. Brian Whitacre, Oklahoma State University; Sean Voskuhl, AARP Oklahoma; Rep. Ty Burns, Oklahoma House of Representatives; Natalie Currie, Oklahoma Department of Libraries; and Joy McGill, AARP Oklahoma.

October 28, 2022 -- AARP Oklahoma presented a $5,000 honorary grant check this week to Oklahoma State University’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service to support OSU’s rural broadband outreach program. 

The $5,000 grant from AARP Oklahoma funds internet hotspots now available in public libraries in three rural Oklahoma communities: Hominy, Buffalo and Frederick.

The hotspots are available for check-out to library patrons, similar to traditional books. Libraries will loan out the mobile hotspots to patrons for a week at a time. The hotspots are able to connect up to 10 devices. 

OSU’s mobile hotspot program is now implemented in 27 rural libraries across the state. The program began as a pilot in 2017. AARP Oklahoma joined OSU in the program and began funding the hotspots and data in 2018. The program has won regional and national awards for creativity and impact. 

“Our hard-working Oklahomans and their families deserve to be connected to the digital world. Unfortunately, rural areas often lack access to internet connectivity in their homes,” said Sean Voskuhl, AARP Oklahoma state director. “Our partnership with Oklahoma State University’s Division of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service provides rural communities with digital connectivity to important resources such as health care, entertainment, job and education resources, while also being able to be more socially connected and personally fulfilled.” 

Voskuhl noted that AARP’s support for OSU’s hotspot program is especially meaningful since Oklahoma ranks 46th in the nation for broadband connectivity. “AARP is committed to driving change in supporting digital connectivity for all Oklahomans, especially in our rural areas,” said Voskuhl.  

OSU’s Dr. Brian Whitacre, who leads the program, said, “The COVID-19 pandemic made clear just how important a broadband connection is. Many of us take for granted all of the things we do online, including paying bills, staying connected with loved ones, or helping our kids with school. This program will be a huge benefit to individuals in Hominy, Buffalo, and Frederick without a reliable home connection. We greatly appreciate AARP’s continued support for our hotspot loan program.”    

Dr. Whitacre added that OSU’s focus groups have uncovered that individuals that lack an Internet connection feel disadvantaged and less connected to their local communities than those who maintain a regular online presence. OSU’s hotspot program and support from AARP will allow those disconnected individuals to participate more fully in the multiple areas that are now predominantly online. 

OSU survey results from library patrons indicate that the program is extremely popular, with more than 90 percent ranking it as a nine or higher (out of 10).  Survey comments highlight children that are now able to work on homework in the comfort of their own homes, users’ ability to stay connected to friends and family and use of the devices to apply for jobs or improve work skills. 

For more information on OSU’s hotspot program, contact Dr. Brian Whitacre, (405) 744-9825, or

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