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Biden-Harris Administration Announces $5.6 Million in Internet for All Grants to Two Minority-Serving Colleges and Universities in California

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.   

“Minority communities in California rely on institutions like Merced College and Sacramento State for economic advancement and opportunities to learn new skills,” said Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo. “With these investments, Merced and Sacramento State will provide new connectivity and equipment, offer more online learning programs, and train new Digital Navigators to work directly with surrounding communities on digital inclusion efforts.”

“Institutions of higher learning play an important role in expanding opportunity and economic growth in their communities, including through digital skills education,” said Governor Gavin Newsom. “California is grateful for these grants to support innovative programs by Merced College and California State University, Sacramento to expand digital access and inclusion for people in their communities, bolster remote learning options for students, and more.”

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.

“Merced College is honored to be selected as a Connecting Minority Communities grant recipient,” said Merced College President Dr. Chris Vitelli. “The pandemic has widened the digital divide in California’s rural Central Valley, and we will use these funds to close that gap by providing bilingual technology access, training and support, so all members of our community are able to succeed in our increasingly digital future.”   

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.  

For more information on the Biden-Harris Administration’s high-speed Internet programs as well as quotes from the awardees, please visit InternetforAll.gov. 

 

Applicant

Location

Funding Amount

Brief Description

Merced Community College District

Merced, CA

$2,634,914.00

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.

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

Sacramento, CA

$2,997,092.00

 

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.