The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today announced five grants totaling more than $10.6 million, the first awards under the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMC).
More than 200 applicants have requested more than $833 million in funding from the program, which has a $268 million budget. Additional awards will be announced on a rolling basis.
At at least 40% of funds are to be awarded to qualifying Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and at least 20% is earmarked for applicants that provide high-speed internet access service and/or eligible equipment to their students. The review process includes initial administrative and eligibility review of application packets, merit review and programmatic review.
The first awards went to HBCUs, Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) across the United States.
The winning institutions for this first round include:
|Applicant||Funding Amount||Type of Project||Brief Description|
|Dine College||$2,925,627.00||Classroom Technology Upgrades; Community Technology Hub/Upgrade; Workforce Training/Economic Growth; Digital Literacy Skills; Internships/Apprenticeships||Dine College’s CONNECT NAVAJO project aims to improve educational and economic opportunity on the Navajo Nation by improving internet access, providing more hardware, and investing in IT staff.|
|Drake State Community and Technical College||$2,413,182.20||Classroom Technology Upgrades; Internships/ Apprenticeships; Community Technology Hub/ Upgrade; Workforce Training/ Economic Growth; Digital Literacy Skills||The Drake State Community and Technical College’s Connecting Minority Communities project aims to eliminate historical inequities related to broadband and computer access within the anchor communities in and around Madison County, Alabama.|
|Mercy College||$2,620,940.00||Classroom Technology Upgrades; Community Technology Hub/Upgrade; Cybersecurity; Internships/ Apprenticeships; Workforce Training/Economic Growth||Mercy College’s Connected, Credentialed and Ready (CCAR) project aims to improve student outcomes by expanding broadband internet access, connectivity, and digital inclusion that will facilitate educational instruction and learning, including through remote instruction.|
|Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology||$754,970.22||Workforce Training/Economic Growth||Through the Student Success and Increasing Minority Workforce Participation Program, Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology (OSUIT) aims to be a proactive participant within its community to decrease the digital divide and enhance access to broadband services as well as increase the talent pipeline for Oklahoma’s telecommunications industry.|
|Tohono O’odham Community College||$1,927,857.61||Digital Literacy Skills; Workforce Training/ Economic Growth; Community Technology Hub/Upgrade||The Tohono O’odham Community College (TOCC) Hewel Wepegi Macidag kc, wog – ‘Learning the Internet Road’ is designed to directly address the lack of broadband access, connectivity, adoption and equity at the college and in the surrounding anchor communities on Tohono O’odham Nation (TON).|
“America’s minority serving college and universities are bedrock learning centers that have too often been left behind when it comes to accessing affordable high-speed internet,” said Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves, in a prepared statement. “The Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program enables these institutions to be a resource for access, digital skills training, and workforce development programs for students and the community to help level the economic playing field.”
The CMC program is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All initiative designed to close the digital divide.