G 00-2
For Immediate Release
Wednesday, January 5, 2000
Contact: Morrie Goodman
(202) 482-4883
Ranjit de Silva
(202) 482-7002


Daley to launch 12-city tour next month to highlight efforts
to close digital gap

WASHINGTON-Approximately $12.5 million will be awarded in a new round of grants by the Commerce Department this year as part of the Clinton-Gore Administration's on-going efforts to close the gap between Americans with access and those without access to new technologies, tools critical to economic success and advancement, Commerce Secretary William M. Daley announced today.

"New technologies are now the major driving force of our country's economic growth," Daley said, noting that more than one-third of U.S. growth stems from the nation's burgeoning information technology industries. "Access and training, therefore, become even more essential so that all Americans have the ability to participate and benefit from the new economy," Daley added.

Daley also announced that the grant program, formerly known as the Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (TIIAP), has been renamed the Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) to better reflect opportunities the many new technologies provide for economic advancement.

The grants announced today are being awarded to state, local and tribal governments and non-profit entities as part of the Administration's program to extend the benefits of the Internet and other information technologies to all Americans, especially those in underserved rural and urban communities.

"There are still many Americans who do not receive the benefits of our nation's digital economy," said Gregory L. Rohde, Assistant Secretary for Communications and Information and head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which administers the grant program. "These grants play a vital role in the Administration's efforts to provide otherwise disadvantaged populations, low-income persons and the less educated with access to information sources," Rohde said.

"Since 1994, the TOP program has helped close the digital divide for minorities, low-income and rural populations, and explored useful applications of new technologies that deliver the dividends of the digital era," Rohde said.

Last July, NTIA released the findings of a major study that reported the gap between American information "haves" and "have nots" has widened significantly. On Dec. 9 Daley hosted a Digital Divide Summit at the Commerce Department, which Rohde said was a critical step in bringing together the public and private sectors to expand collectively initiatives that promote technology and economic development in underserved communities. Next month Daley is scheduled to launch a 12-city tour to raise public awareness of the need to improve access to new technologies by all Americans and to highlight initiatives aimed at closing the digital divide.

TOP is a highly-competitive, merit-based program that provides start-up money for innovative, practical projects that use advanced telecommunications and information technology. The program has provided more than $135 million in matching grants since its inception in 1994.

This year, the program is specifically encouraging projects developed by smaller, locally-based organizations that both serve and represent technologically underserved communities. Grant applicants are also encouraged to consider the use of advanced network technologies to enhance the quality and efficiency of services delivered through non-profit entities. Moreover, TOP is interested in cross-cutting projects involving partnerships among its four application areas--community networking and services; lifelong learning and the arts; health; and public safety.

NTIA will hold a series free regional Technical Assistance Workshops to discuss the TOP funding priorities, application requirements, and lessons learned from previous TOP grantees. This is a key opportunity for interested parties to understand the TOP goals and process, and meet representatives of other organizations interested in the TOP program. The Technical Assistance Workshops will be held on January 31, in New York, New York; February 2, in Houston, Texas; and February 4, in Los Angeles, California. Online registration for the workshops is now available at www.ntia.doc.gov

Assistant Secretary Rohde will hold a special briefing for interested parties in Washington, D.C. on January 19, 2000, at the Department of Commerce, Room 4830, at 2:00 p.m. The press is invited to attend.

Information about the program's regulations and procedures can be found in the Notice of Availability of Funds, published in the Federal Register on January 5, 2000. The deadline for receiving applications is March 16, 2000. For more information about TOP and the Technical Assistance Workshops, call (202) 482-2048, or e-mail to: top@ntia.doc.gov, or access NTIA's website at www.ntia.doc.gov.

NTIA serves as the principal adviser to the President, Vice President and Secretary of Commerce on domestic and international communications and information issues.


Note to Editors: A fact sheet on the TOP program is attached. Press may also visit TOP's readable database (www.ntia.doc.gov) to review TOP projects in their respective areas and follow pointers to grants and search funded projects.



Objectives: The Department of Commerce's Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) promotes the widespread availability and use of advanced telecommunications technologies in the public and non-profit sectors. As part of the Department's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), TOP gives grants for model projects demonstrating innovative uses of network technology. TOP evaluates and actively shares the lessons learned from these projects to ensure the benefits are broadly distributed across the country, especially in rural and underserved communities.

Grants: Since 1994, TOP has made matching grants to state, local and tribal governments, health care providers, schools, libraries, police departments, and community-based non-profit organizations. TOP projects demonstrate how networks support lifelong learning for all Americans, help public safety officials protect the public, assist in the delivery of health care and public health services, and foster communication, resource-sharing, and economic development within rural and urban communities. To date, TOP has awarded 421 grants, in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, totaling $135.8 million and leveraging $203 million in local matching funds. TOP projects are nationally significant demonstrations of how telecommunications and information technologies can be used to extend and improve the delivery of valuable services and opportunities to all Americans, especially the underserved. By serving as models that can be replicated in similar communities across the country, TOP projects extend their benefits far beyond the communities in which they take place, and provide economic and social benefits to the nation as a whole.

Evaluation & Dissemination: By working closely with its grantees, TOP has accumulated a significant body of knowledge about the creation and management of information technology applications. For example, in February, 1999, TOP released the first report evaluating the program's impact and synthesizing the lessons learned by early TOP grant recipients. This initial TOP Evaluation Report (and the accompanying 24 Case Studies) focuses on the 1994 and 1995 TOP grantees. Since then, TOP has evaluated grants made in 1996, and an additional 12 case studies are now available online.

In addition, TOP continuously disseminates the results and insights learned from the projects it supports by providing technical assistance, creating publications, newsletters and online resources, and hosting conferences.


TOP is administered by the United States Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). For more information on the 1999 TOP grant round and a complete list of TOP grants, including project descriptions and contact information, as well as TOP publications and case studies, see NTIA's Home Page on the Web at http://www.ntia.doc.gov/ or contact TOP at (202) 482-2048. To be added to the TOP mailing list, call or email, top@ntia.doc.gov,. In addition, many TOP projects have developed their own Web sites, accessible through the NTIA web site.