Charities and community groups in the West Midlands and the rest of the UK could turn their inter-net dreams into reality by entering the fourth annual AOL Innovation in the Community Awards.
The awards scheme, run by AOL UK and the national charity Citizens Online, offers 30 award packages of £2,000 plus one year's complimentary broadband in support of innovative internet projects in the voluntary sector. Full details of awards can be found at www.aol.co.uk/innovation.
Since the awards scheme began in 2003, AOL UK and Citizens Online have supported 90 initiatives across the country, including an online drama project at Birmingham Repertory Theatre in 2004.
Karen Thomson, chairman and chief executive of AOL UK, said: "Many charities and community groups are highly enthusiastic about the opportunities the internet offers to connect, support and inspire people but don't have the resources to make the most of it.
"These awards will help 30 of them to take an innovative idea and make it happen."
John Fisher, chief executive of Citizens Online, added: "Many people can find the internet daunting but by developing inventive and original ways to use digital technologies, community organisations can encourage new users.
"This scheme provides funding to ensure these new projects are delivered to the people who stand to gain most from discovering the online world."
Representatives of organisations interested in applying for an AOL Innovation in the Community Award can find full details of the scheme and down-load an application form at www.aol.co.uk/innovation.
Alternatively, they can request an application pack by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling the awards hotline on 020 7348 8390.
The closing date for the applications is May10, 2006 and a judging panel will select the 30 award recipients in June. AOL UK and Citizens Online will host an awards ceremony for the 30 winning organisations in London in the autumn.
Jess Abrams of Drake Music Project Scotland, which received an award in 2005, said: "Drake Scotland was delighted to receive an AOL Innovation in the Community Award.
"We have recently launched a new website and the award has enabled us to design an interactive element, which will enable people to take part in an experiential music making session using an online version of our adaptive music technology. It's very important that our website is accessible and the award has helped us to achieve this."
Another 2005 award winner, Wendy Sanderson of 55-plus Positive Lifestyle in Devon, said: "Many older people, particularly in rural areas, feel left behind by modern technology.
"This award offers us an exciting opportunity to help people overcome those feelings of frustration and loneliness, by showing them how to use the internet to shop and access information, and to keep in touch with family and friends."