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Virginia State University has announced a significant grant from the National Telecommunication and Information Administration (NTIA) to support the university’s broadband infrastructure and digital inclusion on the VSU campus and in the surrounding anchor community.

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According to the statement, the grant, worth $2.8 million, will fund various activities to improve broadband access to provide a secure high-speed network, cloud solutions, and support for research services.

It also supports community coding initiatives aimed at helping K-12 students in the Ettrick and Petersburg communities. The grant will complement the $2.2 million previously received through congressional funding to support VSU’s broadband expansion.

“We are thrilled to receive this grant from NTIA. The funds will allow us to upgrade our existing infrastructure and expand access to high-speed internet for our students, faculty, and staff,” said Dr. Donald E. Palm, provost and executive vice president for academic and student affairs. “In addition, the grant funds will be used to upgrade and install fiber optic cable and purchase laptops to distribute to first-year students. We thank VSU Dean Dr. Dawit Haile for his leadership as the project’s principal investigator.”

The funded “Broadband Infrastructure and Digital Inclusion” project will involve various activities, including establishing an academic and research network, upgrading broadband infrastructure, joining the Mid-Atlantic Research Infrastructure Alliance, and providing digital literacy training and support.

“The increased bandwidth and low latency provided by upgraded broadband access will enhance the productivity and efficiency of academic and research activities at VSU,” said Dr. Dawit Haile, Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology and the project’s principal investigator. “The project also will allow VSU’s effort to bridge the digital divide and help the surrounding low-income community get access to the tools and resources they need to succeed in the digital economy.”

The project is part of VSU’s broader effort to promote economic development and social equity in the region through education, research, and community engagement. With this grant, the university is well-positioned to continue positively impacting the lives of the community it serves for years to come.

In December 2022, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) announced $6,227,200 in National Telecommunications and Information Administration funds to expand broadband internet access and to hire and train information technology personnel at Southern University and A&M College.

“Broadband expansion is key to providing Louisiana students the tools they need to succeed after college. I’m grateful that this $6.2 million will help improve internet access and support information technology personnel at Southern University and A&M College,” said Kennedy.

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) awarded five grants for the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMC).

The CMC grants, directed by NTIA’s Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives, cover costs such as purchasing high-speed Internet service and eligible equipment, hiring and training information technology personnel, and innovation and workforce development efforts.

These grants, totaling over $18.5 million, will expand community technology hubs, upgrade classroom technology, and increase digital literacy skills at five minority-serving institutions in California, Missouri, Louisiana, and Alabama. In addition, the awards will help expand high-speed Internet access at educational institutions in California, Missouri, Alabama, and Louisiana.

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