New Bill Puts Technology Funds in the Hands of HBCUs

New Bill Puts Technology Funds in the Hands of HBCUs
By Charles Dervarics

A new bill from Senate Republicans seeks to address the digital divide by providing minority-serving colleges with money to address technology issues.

The Digital and Wireless Network Technology Program Act would provide funds to upgrade technology, support technology degrees and promote use of information technology in research, math, engineering, science and technology instruction.

“When it comes to high-technology jobs, which pay higher wages, this country runs the risk of economically limiting many college students in our society,” says Sen. George Allen, R-Va., the bill’s chief sponsor. “It is important for all Americans that we close this opportunity gap.”

Most historically Black colleges and universities do not have high-speed Internet access, and only 3 percent say financial aid is available to students for technology purposes, the U.S. Department of Commerce reports.

Under the bill, colleges would get $250 million to address digital divide issues. Colleges would have to provide a match of 25 percent of their grant total.

“This legislation is critical, essential, if we are to reduce the digital divide at minority-serving institutions,” says Dr. Bernard Franklin, president of Virginia Union University in Richmond. Seventeen senators are sponsoring the bill, including Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., as well as lawmakers from both parties. For more information about the bill, S. 196, contact Allen’s office at (202) 224-4165.



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