Senate Approves Technology Bill For Minority-Serving Institutions

Senate Approves Technology Bill For Minority-Serving Institutions

Institutions serving specific demographic populations got a few potential funding boosts from Congress recently.

First, the Senate approved the Minority Serving Institution Digital and Wireless Technology Opportunity Act of 2005, which begins an annual $250 million five-year grant program at the National Science Foundation to help historically Black colleges and universities, Hispanic serving institutions, tribal colleges and schools for Native Alaskans and Hawaiians.

These schools could get grants, contracts or cooperative agreements to teach digital and wireless network technology and to invest in their own telecommunications infrastructure. NSF would create an advisory council to examine the best approaches. The council would have to include representation from minority institutions. Schools could get up to $2.5 million a year from a newly created Office of Digital and Wireless Network Technology, with a 25 percent match required (up to $500,000) from the school. Schools with an endowment of less than $50 million could get the match waived.

“Most … minority serving colleges do not have the private foundation resources to provide financial support to upgrade their network infrastructure,” says Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the chief sponsor.

— By Charles Pekow

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