The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has awarded a total of $10,642,577.03 in five grants as part of the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMC).
These grants are designed for projects to help expand community technology hubs, upgrade classroom technology, and increase digital literacy skills. The grants are for projects at five minority-serving institutions in California, New Mexico, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and the Marshall Islands.
The educational institutions are: Mount Saint Mary’s University (CA), New Mexico Highlands University, North Carolina Central University, Eastern University (PA), and the College of the Marshall Islands.
The CMC program is part of the Internet for All initiative designed to connect everyone in the country with affordable, reliable high-speed Internet service. The CMC program directs $268 million from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 for expanding high-speed Internet access and connectivity to eligible Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges or Universities (TCUs), and minority-serving institutions (MSIs).
The CMC grants cover a variety of broadband-related costs, including high-speed Internet service and eligible equipment, the hiring and training of information technology personnel, and innovation and workforce development efforts.
“Minority-serving institutions are key drivers of digital skills education and workforce development programs for communities across the country. They need robust connectivity and resources to continue to provide support,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, in a prepared statement about the NTIA Connecting Minority Communities grants. “This program will build digital capacity for colleges and universities that will deliver benefits to their students and fuel job creation and economic growth in their communities.”
The final allocation of the remaining $268 million in grant funds will satisfy the requirement that at least 40% of funds are distributed to qualifying HBCUs and at least 20% is distributed to applicants that provide high-speed Internet access service and/or eligible equipment to their students.