The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today released a Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program, which will direct $268 million for expanding broadband access and connectivity to eligible 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.
“Communities of color have faced systemic barriers to affordable broadband access since the beginning of the digital age,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “The investments we make as part of the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program will help communities that are struggling with access, adoption and connectivity, and will inform our path forward as we seek to finally close the digital divide across the country.”
The Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program was established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. Grants will be distributed to help HBCUs, TCUs and MSIs purchase broadband service or equipment, hire IT personnel, operate a minority business enterprise or a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization, and facilitate educational instruction, including remote instruction.
“NTIA knows how crucial colleges, universities and other community institutions can be when it comes to reaching vulnerable citizens and making a lasting impact,” said Acting NTIA Administrator Evelyn Remaley. “We look forward to working with Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges or Universities, and minority-serving institutions to advance our shared goal of a fully connected nation.”
The Notice of Funding Opportunity published today on grants.gov outlines the requirements for grant applications and other information about the program. Completed applications must be received by grants.gov no later than 11:59 p.m. EST on Dec. 1, 2021. In June, NTIA published the Final Rule for the program, which included programmatic scope, general guidelines, and described the agency’s method to determine applicant eligibility and identify which eligible recipients have the greatest unmet financial needs.
NTIA is holding a series of webinars to further inform the public. The next Connecting Minority Communities webinars will be held on August 18 and 19.