WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced today that it has received more than 200 applications for the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program, resulting in more than $833 million in funding requests for the purchase of broadband internet service, equipment, or devices, among other project goals.
NTIA has begun reviewing the applications for the $268 million grant program, which was authorized and funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. Grants will be made available 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.
The funds provided by the Connecting Minority Communities Program will be greatly complemented by President Biden’s recently passed Bipartisan Infrastructure Law. That landmark legislation provides $65 billion to expand broadband in communities across the U.S, of which $48 billion is allocated to NTIA to create more low-cost broadband service options, subsidize the cost of service for low-income households, and address the digital equity and inclusion needs in our communities.
“This program is an important step in closing the digital divide – both at these vital higher-education institutions as well as the communities they serve. But there is more to be done,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “With the help of President Biden and the $65 billion dollars provided by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law for the expansion of broadband, we will continue to invest in making affordable, reliable, high-speed internet a reality for every community across the country.”
NTIA will thoroughly and objectively review applications using a three-stage process: Initial Administrative and Eligibility Review of Complete Application Packets, Merit Review, and Programmatic Review. Reviewers will evaluate applications according to the criteria provided in Section V of the Notice of Funding Opportunity.
“The high volume of applicants for our Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program displays the importance of expanding affordable, reliable broadband access to those minority communities that have lacked it for so long,” said Acting NTIA Administrator Evelyn Remaley. “NTIA looks forward to working closely with all eligible entities in these efforts to expand broadband access and address the digital equity needs of their respective communities.”
Additional broadband funding for states, localities, and tribal governments is available through the Department of Treasury’s American Rescue Plan Funds. The BroadbandUSA Federal Funding Guide also compiles federal funding opportunities for expanding and improving broadband access. More information about the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program can be found in the Notice of Funding Opportunity and on the BroadbandUSA website.