Please enter a valid search term.

How universities and institutions are promoting broadband access in underserved communities

Bowling Green, KY (March 14, 2024) On Wednesday, March 13, 2024, the NTIA Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives hosted a webinar to share updates about the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program, which provides funding to help bridge the Digital Divide in unserved or underserved communities that are anchored by universities. 

NTIA has awarded $268 million in grant funding to 93 historically Black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, and minority-serving institutions to support their efforts to increase broadband access, equipment, and training. In this webinar, three universities — California State University – Dominguez Hills, Miami Dade College, and Universidad Ana G. Mendez (UAGM) — shared how the program has allowed them to advance their students and communities toward connectivity. 

First, representatives with California State University – Dominguez Hills shared about its focus on three goals: technology distribution, digital upscaling, and workforce readiness. Thanks to the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program, the university has distributed 2,500 laptops to six of its eight populations. One thing that university leaders did not anticipate in this process was the amount of advocacy they would have to engage in, especially with the recent sunset of the Federal Communication Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program. However, they have still made remarkable progress toward digital upscaling by partnering with campus departments to prepare students to work in community-based organizations. For example, the university has been able to fund 3,712 internship hours for students through grants to equip them with career-readiness skills. 

Miami Dade College serves students at eight different campuses, along with 21 outreach centers. The college receives about $30 million in grant money each year. Its WIRED Grant specifically has four pillars: digital literacy, broadband access expansion, internet hotspot, and laptop distribution, and IT and information security bootcamps. In digital literacy alone, the school has a 73% completion rate, and it has been able to serve 500 to 800 regular users in broadband access so far. When students complete a course, they are eligible to receive a free laptop and hotspot to promote continued learning and access. 

Universidad Ana G. Mendez (UAGM), located in Puerto Rico, presented about its three core areas: technology, education, and research. The university conducts academic research on digital inclusion, adoption, and access to local lower-income and anchor communities. It then acquires the necessary technology to educate in-need populations to help them develop digital literacy skills. The university also hosts internal and external workshops and offers stipends for its cybersecurity certification.

Overall, the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program has made a vast impact on communities that cannot afford or obtain broadband access on their own. The participating schools are thankful to receive funding to continue their efforts and promote internet access to close the Digital Divide.

You can learn more about other information and initiatives by visiting