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Department of Commerce’s NTIA Releases Final Rule for $268 Million Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 
June 15, 2021

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WASHINGTON – The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) today released the Final Rule for the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program, which will direct $268 million for expanding broadband to eligible historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges or Universities (TCUs), and minority-serving institutions (MSIs).

The Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program was established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. Grants will be distributed to help HBCUs, TCUs and MSIs purchase broadband service or equipment, hire IT personnel, operate a minority business enterprise, and facilitate educational instruction. The Final Rule describes the programmatic scope and general guidelines for the program. As directed by the Act, the Final Rule also establishes a method to determine applicant eligibility and identify which eligible recipients have the greatest unmet financial needs.

“Tribal colleges and universities, historically Black colleges and universities, and minority-serving institutions are bedrock centers of learning that have long delivered for their communities, but they have too often been left behind when it comes to having access to affordable, high-speed broadband,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “The Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program will deliver immediate benefits to these communities and institutions while informing the larger efforts planned under President Biden’s American Jobs Plan.”

“The Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program builds on the foundation that began with the launch of the Minority Broadband Initiative two years ago,” said Acting NTIA Administrator Evelyn Remaley. “NTIA is eager to build on the relationships we’ve made with HBCUs, TCUs, and other anchor institutions around the country.”

Requirements for grant applications and other information about the program will be found in the Notice of Funding Opportunity that will be subsequently published on grants.gov. NTIA is also holding a series of webinars to further inform the public about the program. The next Connecting Minority Communities webinars will be held on June 23 and 24.