ASU $2.9 Million Grant Expands Broadband Internet Access
By Kenneth Mullinax/ASU
Alabama State University has been awarded a grant totaling $2,999,695.37 from the United States Department of Commerce. The funds are part of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's (NTIA) distribution of $175 million to 61 schools across the nation from the agency’s Connecting Minority Communities (CMC) Pilot Program.
ASU’s grant will help to fund a new University initiative called “Broadening Access through Community, Connectivity, and Education” (BRACCE), which will be coordinated by the Office of Academic Affairs.
ASU's assistant provost for Student Success and Special Initiatives, Dr. Tanjula Petty, explained that BRACCE is aimed at expanding broadband internet access for the campus, while providing another impactful link to the community. The innovative program is designed to expand online courses and programs; to improve the campus's digital experience; and to develop collaborative community endeavors through broadband access.
"I am grateful for Alabama State University being awarded this grant from the National Telecommunications and Information Administration's Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program. It is part of the Biden-Harris Administration’s 'Internet for All' initiative that will ultimately connect everyone in America with affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet service," Petty said."
INTERNET ACCESS IS NECESSARY FOR MINORITY COMMUNITIES ADVANCEMENT
The U.S. Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo, believes that access to affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet service is necessary for minority students and local communities to fully access schools, healthcare, and jobs.
“The Department of Commerce has made significant investments into minority-serving colleges and universities, and I am proud to say that all funding from the Connecting Minority Communities program has been distributed to help make Internet connectivity a reality for tens of thousands of students at minority-serving colleges and universities across the country,” Raimondo stated. "These grants will help expand community technology hubs, upgrade classroom technology, and increase digital literacy skills at their minority serving colleges and universities."
ASU President Quinton T. Ross, Jr.
GRANT HELPS ASU MEET GOALS
The President of Alabama State University, Dr. Quinton T. Ross, Jr., says the impact of the grant reaches beyond the campus.
“The grant aligns directly with the University’s Focus 2030 Strategic Plan, particularly our emphasis on academic excellence, student success and community impact,” said President Ross. “By allocating the funds to the nation’s minority-serving institutions, especially Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), the Biden-Harris administration acknowledges the transformative role that these institutions continue to play in providing equal access to education for the nation’s minority and underserved populations.”
ASU's assistant provost explained some of the key components of the BRACCE initiative.
"ASU will establish a hybrid cloud infrastructure and maintain a cybersecurity program that provides comprehensive strategic planning, governance, and advisory consulting support. The University will also provide extended wireless network coverage to campus locations that have limited, unreliable, or no wireless access, and we will provide the campus's surrounding anchor community with an innovative digital technology center to provide local residents with access to both digital technologies and digital navigation services," Petty stated. "We will also develop a campus-based mobile application that creates a central point of access for students, faculty, staff, and alumni to interact with the University’s systems and activities."
Dr. Tanjula Petty
A TEAM EFFORT
Petty acknowledged that the grant would not have become a reality without the hard work and professional expertise of the ASU team, including Dr. Patrice Glenn Jones, executive director of Online Education and Programs; Sonya Satterfield, senior programmer/business analyst; Dr. Kenley Obas, assistant professor of Technology; and ASU's external partner, Cycurion, Inc.
ADVANTAGES OF ASU'S BRACCE PROGRAM
ASU'S BRACCE initiative is a multi-dimensional program that addresses community needs for access to technology and training that enables ASU students and local residents to be able to compete for high-paying jobs and global business opportunities.
"To achieve this objective, ASU, in collaboration with the community, must first put in place the needed infrastructure of technology and personnel. It is this infrastructure that will support the evolution of ‘Smart School’ online learning, which allows better collaborations with the community," Petty emphasized. "The overarching goals include expanding online courses and programs, improving the campus's digital experience, and developing collaborative community endeavors through broadband access."
Petty added that receiving funding for BRACCE allows ASU to continue to “focus on success.”
"With this funding, we are not only helping students succeed, but we’re also helping members of the community succeed." Petty said.
News media contact: Kenneth Mullinax, 334-229-4104.