The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced today it has awarded the first five grants as part of the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMC). These grants, totaling $10,642,577.03, will be used to fund internet access, equipment, and to hire and train information technology personnel. Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves announced the grants at an event in New York with Mercy College, one of the first grant recipients.
Today’s awardees 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 provided in the table below and on InternetForAll.Gov.
The CMC program is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s Internet for All initiative that will connect everyone in America with affordable, reliable high-speed internet. This program specifically directs $268 million from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 for expanding high-speed internet access and connectivity to eligible colleges and universities.
“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. “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.”
“If we charge forward into the digital age without making efforts to increase internet access, we will be leaving low-income communities and communities of color behind,” said Congressman Mondaire Jones. “We cannot, and will not, let this happen. The Commerce Department, along with many others, are doing incredible work every day to promote digital equity in marginalized communities on the state and local level. I’m so proud to be part of that effort to deliver essential funding for Mercy College so they can ensure all of their students have internet access.”
NTIA thoroughly and objectively reviewed applications using a three-stage process: Initial Administrative and Eligibility Review of Complete Application Packets, Merit Review, and Programmatic Review. Reviewers evaluated applications according to the criteria set forth in Section V of the Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO).
NTIA is continuing to review the more than 200 applications received during the application window, which closed December 1, 2021. Additional awards will be announced on a rolling basis as they go through NTIA’s review process. The final allocation of the $268 million in grant funds will satisfy the requirements, 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.
President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, also known as the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, provides a historic $65 billion investment to expand high-speed internet 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.
For more information on the Biden-Harris Administration’s high-speed internet programs, please visit InternetforAll.gov.