Minority College Students on Computer

The  Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today awarded a pair of grants totaling close to $6 million in the Connecting Minority Communities Program. The pilot program targets higher education institutions serving minorities.

Albany State University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) will use its $2.9 million grant to deliver Internet access, purchase equipment, and hire and train IT personnel with the goal of expanding access to remote learning by expanding broadband internet access and connectivity, and by promoting digital inclusion in the community. 

Long Beach City College, a Hispanic Serving Institution, is receiving close to $3 million, which college officials expect to use to support their Student Technology and Resources (STAR) program, designed to help address gaps in Internet access among students. 

“We are honored to be awarded the grant for the Connecting Minority Communities Program,” said Marion Ross Fedrick, Albany State University president, in a prepared statement. “This grant will address the growing demand of support needed for broadband connectivity in the Albany community while establishing a foundation for future distance learning at Albany State University. The program aligns with our strategic plan that addresses opportunities for community partnership, ensures student access and success, and creates the environment where both the community and our students can thrive.”

The Connecting Minority Communities program directs $268 million from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 for expanding high-speed Internet access and connectivity to eligible HBCUs, Tribal Colleges or Universities (TCUs), and minority-serving institutions (MSIs).

“In today’s digital world, access to affordable broadband internet is critical to success in school, at work and beyond,” said California Gov. Gavin Newsom, in a prepared statement. “Our state is committed to bridging the digital divide in disproportionately impacted communities so that all Californians can thrive. This investment in the Long Beach City College’s innovative program [will] support students with the tools and resources they need to access important educational opportunities.”

With these grant announcements, the Connecting Minority Communities program has distributed $27,198,200 across 12 educational institutions so far.

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