FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 30, 1997
CONTACT: Paige Darden
(202) 482-7002
pdarden@ntia.doc.gov


COMMERCE DEPARTMENT GRANTS BRING ADVANCED

TELECOMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGIES TO UNDERSERVED AREAS

"The winners of these grants are the pioneers of the Information Age -- they are discovering creative ways to use the Information Superhighway to create educational opportunities for learners of all ages, boost local economies, transform government services, provide greater access to medical care, and fight crime."

Vice President Al Gore

Washington, DC -- Vice President Al Gore and Commerce Secretary William Daley today announced the awarding of $20.9 million in federal matching grants to help bring the benefits of the Information Age to all Americans, particularly those living in rural and underserved inner city areas. Fifty-five public institutions in 38 states and the District of Columbia have been selected to receive the grants.

The grant program, the Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (TIIAP), provides seed funding to non-profit organizations and state and local government entities for innovative projects that demonstrate the benefits of telecommunications and information technology and helps extend their reach to underserved communities. This year's funds will be matched by $25 million in non-Federal funds resulting in a total investment of $45.9 million in our nation's information infrastructure. TIIAP is administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

"The grants we are announcing today will provide online worker training and job opportunity information in economically depressed areas, help detect child abuse and prevent child fatalities, and develop a telemedicine system for emergency medical services for accident victims in rural areas, " said Vice President Gore. "They are all examples of how the Information Superhighway can make a difference in our lives."

"We started this unique, extremely competitive program in 1994 as part of our vision to have an advanced National Information Infrastructure that reaches all Americans," said Commerce Secretary Daley. "TIIAP is helping us realize that vision by serving as a catalyst. It is bringing together the public and private sectors to figure out how to realize the potential that the Internet and other new telecommunications technologies offer."

Projects for funding were selected, in part, for their ability to serve as models that can be replicated across the country. "We are setting up small laboratories all over the country; we are learning how technology can help to overcome geographic and financial barriers, improve public safety, and enhance organizations' abilities to serve their communities," said Larry Irving, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and administrator of NTIA.

"This year, alone, there were more than 900 applicants requesting over $350 million in funding. The response to the program proves that there is a tremendous need at the state and local level to figure out how advancements in telecommunications technologies can be used to improve people's daily lives and strengthen their communities, particularly those that are in the greatest danger of being left behind in the Information Age, said Irving. "The TIIAP award recipients are leading the way for communities all across the country," added Irving.

The grants were awarded in five categories; some examples from this year's awards include:

Education, Culture and Lifelong Learning: a Jackson, Mississippi project will put technology into the children's wing of a hospital to allow children who are chronically ill to communicate with their teachers, classmates, friends, and family;

Public and Community Services: a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania grant will link 125 family-centered, non-profits and government agencies to help people transition from welfare to work, and access job training opportunities;

Health: a Knoxville, Tennessee grant will use technology to provide initial care for trauma patients by putting technology to work in ambulances, rural emergency departments, and a Level I Trauma Center; the grant is expected to particularly help save the lives of people involved in rural highway accidents;

Public Safety: a Chicago, Illinois grant hopes to reduce the number of crimes committed by youths by linking the juvenile court system with social service agencies to help ensure that the youths get the service that is ordered by the court; and

Community-Wide Networking: a Spokane, Washington grant will enhance a local community network to spur economic development by creating on-line career centers with innovations such as virtual job shadowing.

The TIIAP program has awarded grants annually since 1994. With the addition of this year's grants, TIIAP has awarded a total of 332 grants in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. These awards amount to over $100 million and have been matched by more than $150 million in non-Federal funds. Information about TIIAP, including descriptions of the grants the program has awarded and information about how to apply for 1998 funds, is available on the NTIA Home Page at http://www.ntia.doc.gov.

The Commerce Department's NTIA, in addition to administering the TIIAP grant program, serves as the principal adviser to the President, Vice President, and Secretary of Commerce on domestic and international communications and information issues.

On October 28, 1997, NTIA will hold a one-day conference, Networks for People: TIIAP at Work, at the Department of Commerce in Washington, DC to share lessons that have been learned by past award recipients. The 1997 TIIAP award recipients and several grant recipients from past years will be in attendance. The conference is free and is open to the public. It will provide an opportunity to learn how organizations are using telecommunications technologies to improve the lives of people in their communities. For more information or to RSVP to attend the conference, please call TIIAP at 202-482-2048. Information and on-line registration for the conference is available at http://www.ntia.doc.gov.

NOTE TO REPORTERS: To arrange an interview with Assistant Secretary of Commerce Larry Irving, please call Paige Darden, NTIA Office of Public Affairs, at 202-482-7002. The NTIA Office of Public Affairs will also, upon request, fax a listing of the 1997 grants or a fact sheet on a particular grant (contains name and phone number for grant contact person) and any other background information needed. This material is also available on NTIA's home page at http://www.ntia.doc.gov.

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