Funds through the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program will improve internet coverage and invest in workforce development for students and community members at Virginia Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner and Tim Kaine of Virginia announced today that $9,685,734 will allow Norfolk University, Virginia State University and Virginia Union University with the opportunity to improve existing internet networks and workforce development opportunities.
“High-speed internet is no longer a nice-to-have — it’s a need-to-have, particularly at our institutions of higher ed,” the Senators said. “This funding for Norfolk State, Virginia State and Virginia Union represents strong steps toward closing the digital divide, developing a tech savvy workforce, and improving connectivity at three of Virginia’s HBCUs and in their surrounding communities.”
Norfolk State University will receive $3,898,789 to improve fiber connection on campus, create workforce development opportunities in STEM, IT and cybersecurity careers, and provide off-campus internet-focused training for students and members of the local community.
Virginia Union University will receive $2,987,765 to improve wireless connectivity on campus, hire additional IT staff, and offer digital skills development opportunities for prioritized students, faculty and community members.
Virginia State University will receive $2,799,180 to upgrade and install fiber optic cable, purchase laptops to distribute to freshmen, and implement a community coding initiative for K-12 students in the Ettrick-Petersburg area.
A $268 million competitive grant program, the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program was originally authorized by the government spending bill and COVID-19 relief package negotiated by Warner and supported by Kaine.