Minority Serving Institutions take on the digital divide

In proclaiming last week as National Historically Black Colleges and University (HBCU) Week, President Obama stated:

    “[A]s we continue strengthening the capacity of HBCUs, let us also recommit to preserving and enriching their long tradition of hope and success, and to continue sustaining our collective effort to meet and exceed America’s goals of educational excellence.”

The recent announcement of a BTOP award to North Carolina Central University’s School of Law supports the President’s call to enhance the capacity of HBCUs and other minority-serving institutions of higher learning (MSIs). The $2 million investment will upgrade broadband service for videoconferencing that will increase low-income residents’ access to legal services and extend classes to HBCU partners: Elizabeth City State University, Winston-Salem State University, North Carolina A&T University, and Fayetteville State University, as well as to 22 legal assistance sites. Fayetteville State and Coppin State University, another HBCU, previously received BTOP grants to establish new public computer centers.

The Coppin State project will be among those we’ll discuss next week at a conference in Dallas, Texas on how Minority Serving Institutions can help close the digital divide in their communities. On September 21st, I’ll be moderating a panel at the conference, which is sponsored by the Commerce Department and other federal agencies.

It’s not too late to register for this free event. The agenda and registration form for the Minority Serving Institutions Technical Assistance and Capacity Building Conference are available at the conference website here (note: this site is not affiliated with NTIA.) You can send registration forms to Mr. John Rosenthall at jrosenthall@msn.com. He’s also available by phone at (202) 508-3894 or (703) 624-2257 to answer your questions. Onsite registrations are also welcome.

I hope to meet you in Dallas!

Maureen Lewis is NTIA's Minority Telecommunications Development Program Director.

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