By Tashi McQueen,
AFRO Political Writer,
On Jan. 30 the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a new collaborative broadband pilot program with Coppin State University, the historically Black university in West Baltimore, entitled ConnectEagle Nation.
The program will improve broadband, high-speed internet service throughout West Baltimore while making it more affordable for local residents.
ConnectEagle Nation, a Connecting Minorities Communitiesprogram, was awarded a $3.9 million grant from the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
The grant will help provide laptops, iPads and enhance the resources of the Enoch Pratt Library and other local projects.
“Promoting digital equity and inclusion is the right thing to do,” Gov. Wes Moore said. “This endeavor goes beyond the internet. People apply for benefits, jobs, connect with the world and their community and develop skills all online.”
The event was joined by Maryland state Sen. Antonio Hayes (D-Md.), Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), U.S. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and U.S. Rep. Kweisi Mfume (D-Md.) were all in attendance.
“Today I am pleased to announce that the Biden-Harris administration is awarding more than $33.5 million to 12 other HBCUs across America,” said Alan Davidson, assistant secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information. “We plan to award all the money at the end of this quarter to ensure we get the money out into the community.”
The current fiscal quarter ends on March 31.
“The pilot program is designed to address the critical importance of access to adequate broadband and the need to connect more Marylanders to an ever-changing technological world,” said Anthony L. Jenkins, president of Coppin State University. “Such efforts will ensure residents can engage in the digital economy: education, telework and helping communities attract new businesses.”
“Maryland is on the right track,” Mfume said. “I am particularly pleased that you
] were in line to get these federal funds. I am glad you did not decide to dump the money solely into Coppin State University but throughout the community’s neighborhoods that desperately need it.”
Go to Internetforall.gov for more information about the American broadband equity initiative.
Tashi McQueen is a Report for America Corps Member.
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