More than $833 million in funding has been requested through more than 200 applications for the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program. The program has a $268 million budget.
NTIA has begun reviewing the applications for the grant program, which was created in the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 and signed into law by President Trump in late December 2020. The money is to be used for the purchase of broadband internet service, equipment or devices, as well as for other project goals.
Among those eligible for grants are Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges or Universities (TCUs), Minority-serving institutions (MSIs) and consortia led by an HBCU, TCU, or MSI that also include a minority business enterprise or tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization.
“This program is an important step in closing the digital divide – both at these vital higher-education institutions as well as the communities they serve. But there is more to be done,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo, in a prepared statement about the NTIA Connecting Minority Communities applications. “With the help of President Biden and the $65 billion dollars provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the expansion of broadband, we will continue to invest in making affordable, reliable, high-speed internet a reality for every community across the country.”
In addition to the money from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program, states, localities and tribal governments can get additional funding from the Department of Treasury’s American Rescue Plan Funds.
And the recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law allocated $48 billion to NTIA to create more low-cost broadband service options, subsidize the cost of service for low-income households and address the digital equity and inclusion.