WASHINGTON - U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke today announced two American Recovery and Reinvestment Act investments to help bridge the technological divide, improve education, and increase economic opportunities for low-income families in New York, New York and Los Angeles, California. The grants, totaling more than $29 million, will fund computer training and provide more than 30,000 computers to middle school students and their families in high-need schools, enabling them to make use of key educational, employment, and health resources online.
In New York, the NYC Connected Learning project plans to provide computer training, desktop computers, educational software, and free broadband access for one year to more than 18,000 low-income sixth graders and their families in 100 high-need public middle schools in New York City. The not-for-profit organization Computers for Youth will conduct computer training for parents and students in English, Spanish, and other languages to enhance digital literacy and increase the relevance of broadband to people's everyday lives. As a result of this project, more than 12,000 households are expected to subscribe to broadband beyond the free year-long subscription period.
In California, Computers for Youth will partner with the Los Angeles Unified School District to increase broadband technology awareness, help students succeed academically, and increase family involvement in their children's education through computer and Internet tools. The project will provide 15,000 sixth-grade students and their families with computer training, after which they will receive a refurbished computer with educational software. Nearly 8,000 households are anticipated to become new broadband subscribers as a result of this project.
"These critical investments will expand computer and Internet services to students and families in need to help them succeed in school and make them full participants in today's 21st century information economy," Locke said. "Having access to the Internet's economic, health and educational benefits should be as much of a fundamental American right as attending a quality school or feeling safe when you walk down the street."
The Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), funded by the Recovery Act, provides grants to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure, enhance and expand public computer centers, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service.
NTIA received more than 1,800 applications proposing projects totaling nearly $19 billion during the first BTOP funding round and is currently awarding grants on a rolling basis. NTIA just received a second round of applications in the BTOP Sustainable Broadband Adoption and Public Computer Center grant categories, and is currently accepting applications in the BTOP Comprehensive Community Infrastructure grant category through March 26, 2010.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided a total of $7.2 billion to NTIA and the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service (RUS) to fund projects that will expand access to and adoption of broadband services. Of that funding, NTIA will utilize $4.7 billion for grants to deploy broadband infrastructure in the United States, expand public computer center capacity, and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service. NTIA will announce all grant awards by September 30, 2010.