Biden admin awards $5.6 million in Internet for All funds to minority-serving higher ed institutions in CA

Internet for All grants will spur economic development, increase digital skills, and create Digital Navigator programs at two institutions. #pressrelease

November 22, 2022

3 Min Read

WASHINGTON – The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced today it has awarded two grants as part of the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMC) to Merced Community College and California State University, Sacramento.

These grants, totaling about $5.6 million, will spur economic development, increase digital skills, and create Digital Navigator programs at the two institutions. More information about these grants is provided in the table below and on InternetForAll.Gov.

Awardees of the program include Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs) across the United States. More information about the awardees and grants is available on InternetForAll.Gov. 

The CMC program is part of President Biden's Internet for All initiative and specifically directs $268 million from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 for expanding high-speed Internet access and connectivity to eligible colleges and universities.

Internet for All

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable and reliable high-speed Internet access in communities across the U.S. NTIA recently launched a series of new high-speed Internet grant programs funded by the law that will build high-speed Internet infrastructure across the country, create more low-cost high-speed Internet service options, and address the digital equity and inclusion needs in our communities.

Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission's Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Visit getinternet.gov to learn more.

Applicant: Merced Community College District

Location: Merced, CA

Funding Amount: $2,634,914.00

Description: The Merced College Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMCPP) project will expand educational instruction and remote learning opportunities, spur economic development, and create opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship. This project will pilot a digital pathway for area K-12 students and will: 1) create a new Digital Navigator program; 2) offer dual credit STEM and computer science courses to area high schools; and 3) expand the Merced College's capability to provide remote learning for commuting and online learners attending the College for degree earning programs, adult education, and workforce development. Merced College will also purchase and distribute connectivity equipment for students and families every year on a needs-determined basis. These include hotspots to facilitate adequate internet access, laptops, webcams with headsets for students, and webcams with speakers for families.

Applicant: University Enterprises, Inc., dba, Sac. State Sponsored Research

Location: Sacramento, CA

Funding Amount: $2,997,092.00

Description: Through the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program, Sacramento State will form the Sacramento Regional Consortium for Digital Equity to apply a Digital Navigator program in the Sacramento community of Lemon Hill. By training students as Digital Navigator Interns (DNIs) and deploying them to Community Anchor Institutions, the consortium aims to amplify outreach to at-risk communities struggling with digital exclusion. The Digital Navigator Interns (DNIs) will serve as teaching assistants, interns and mentors in digital learning spaces. Sacramento State will also establish a Community Engagement Lab (CEL) that will have essential software and equipment, will be staffed by DNIs, and have scheduled access for community training or open lab time for both DNIs and community participants to work together or independently.

Read the full press release here.

NTIA

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