HCBUs Awarded Federal Digital Divide Grants
North Carolina Central University and Grambling State University are among 74 nonprofit organizations, which include colleges, universities, local governments and community development groups, receiving $42.8 million in grants from the Technology Opportunities Program (TOP), which is coordinated by the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
The TOP grants, which are being matched by $46.7 million in contributions from the private sector and state and local organizations, provide advanced telecommunications technologies to underserved communities and neighborhoods. The program is regarded as the federal government’s top digital divide initiative.
“We want these grants to demonstrate how the most up-to-date technology can assist the delivery of services to Americans of all ages and backgrounds, improving levels of public safety, public health, public information, homeownership and economic development,” says Nancy J. Victory, the assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information.
Grambling State University (GSU), a historically Black university in Grambling, La., is working with six African American churches in six rural parishes in north Louisiana to increase Internet connectivity among church members. GSU will establish a computer lab, setting up a minimum of five networked computers, in each of the six churches. A group of volunteers from the churches will receive extensive training in order to staff the computer lab and help congregation members use the Internet.
In addition, the trained volunteers will work with church staff to select families who will receive the use of a computer with Internet access for 36 months. GSU representatives will provide computer demonstrations and additional training to families receiving a computer to teach them how to access information and assistance in areas of education, health, work-force development and family values, as well as community information. GSU will create a home page that links users to its Nursing, Education and Social Work Departments, and to the CareerNET Center and technical support.
GSU officials hope to demonstrate how churches can play a role in serving as a catalyst to get more low-income Black families using technology, and to show how computers in the home can make a positive difference for all family members.
North Carolina Central University (NCCU), a historically Black university in Durham, N.C., is partnering with the Eagle Village Community Development Corporation to promote computer networking technologies in underserved communities in Durham. The Community Education Access Program (CEAP) will link two local churches, two schools and NCCU via a computer network.
The CEAP project will reach school-aged youth, their parents and their grandparents. Each of these groups will be tutored in the use of application software, Internet browsing and e-mail. In addition, CEAP will train senior citizens to become volunteer or paid community computer center staff to work with young adults and teenagers to build coalitions around solving community problems.
A Tutoring-at-a-Distance program will be established to allow NCCU students to tutor children and residents of the Eagle Village Public Housing complex without having to leave the campus. The program will also use streaming video real-time training modules that can be archived for viewing anytime.
For more information about the TOP program, please visit <www.ntia.doc.gov/otiahome/top/whatsnew/whatsnew.htm>.
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