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Kerry, Bipartisan Senators Work To Expand Internet, Digital Access To Minority Schools And Colleges

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC

Kerry, Bipartisan Senators Work to Expand Internet, Digital Access to Minority Schools and Colleges

Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), along with Senators Warner (R -Va.), Smith (R-OR), Pryor (D-AR) and Webb (D-VA), are pleased to announce that the Senate Commerce Committee reported out a bill that will widen access to internet and digital technologies in minority serving educational institutions. The Max Cleland Minority Serving Institution Digital and Wireless Technology Opportunity Act -- originally introduced by Max Cleland and passed unanimously in the 108th and 109th Congress, will support investment in wireless technologies and education for students in minority serving colleges and universities. Senator Kerry thanked Chairman Inouye and Vice-Chairman Stevens for their support of this measure.

"I am proud to sponsor legislation that helps Historically Black Colleges and other institutions upgrade their technology and improve the quality of their high-tech programs," Senator Kerry said. "This bill will improve the quality of education at many schools across the country and will go a long way toward bridging the digital divide."

The bill will authorize the creation of an Office of Minority Serving Institution Digital and Wireless Technology to implement these improvements. The bill authorizes $250 million each for FY 2008- FY 2012 and requires that institutions awarded a grant, contract, or cooperative agreement make available the lesser of 25 percent of the amount of the non-Federal award or $500,000. The Director is required to waive the matching requirement for any institution with no endowment, or an endowment worth less than $50,000,000.

Senator Warner said, "Many of our Minority Serving Institutions lack the resources to help students bridge the ‘digital divide' between those who are able to develop the skills necessary to succeed in a technology-based economy and those who are not. This legislation will offer critical funds to support these institutions in their important education efforts, including up to five Historically Black Colleges in Virginia."

"This bill will enhance minority serving institutions' ability to provide students with access to critical information technologies to help bridge the digital divide and give students the right tools for entering the 21st century job market," said Commerce Committee Chairman Daniel K. Inouye.

Specifically, the Minority Serving Institution Digital and Wireless Technology Opportunity Act will direct the money to be used for the following:

- acquiring equipment, networking capability, hardware and software, digital network technology, and wireless technologies in schools and colleges;

- providing educational services, including faculty development and teacher education, as well as library and media specialist training, and preschool and teacher aid certification to individuals who seek to acquire or enhance technology skills;

- implementing joint projects to provide education regarding technology in the classroom with a state or state education agency, local education agency, community based organization, national non?profit organization, or business, including minority businesses.

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