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Senators Warner and Webb Announce Senate Passage of Bill to Close the "Digital Divide" at Minority Educational Institutions

Press Release

Location: Washington, DC


Senators John W. Warner (R-Va.), and Jim Webb (D-Va.) today announced that the Senate has passed their legislation, the Minority Serving Institutions Advanced Technology and Education Act, as a provision in the College Opportunity and Affordability Act of 2008 (H.R.4137), the reauthorization of Higher Education Act.

The legislation will provide resources to address the technology gap that exists at many minority educational institutions, and would establish a grant program for Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) to assist them in bringing increased access to computers, technology and the Internet to their student populations.

After passing unanimously in July 2007, the legislation was included Tuesday in an agreement by conference members from the House and Senate. With the up-or-down vote complete in both chambers, the bill now goes to the president for his signature.

The legislation creates a federal grant program for MSIs to acquire equipment, instrumentation, networking capability, hardware and software, digital network technology and wireless technology and infrastructure to develop and provide educational services.

"Bridging the ‘digital divide' and investing in our Historically Black Colleges and other Minority Serving Institutions is crucial in a world where technology goes hand in hand with economic development and success," said Webb. "I am pleased to see the Senate pass this important legislation which will improve both the quality of learning and the ability of students to compete with anyone, anywhere in the world."

"Many of our Historically Black Colleges and Universities lack the resources to assist their students in bridging the ‘digital divide' between students who are able to develop the skills necessary to succeed in a technology-based economy and those who are not," said Warner. "This bipartisan legislation will provide a much-needed infusion of funds to allow these institutions to bolster their important technology infrastructure and education efforts, including up to six Historically Black Colleges and Universities in Virginia."

There are more than 200 Hispanic Serving Institutions, at least 100 Historically Black Colleges and Universities and more than 30 tribal colleges throughout the United States that would be eligible for these technology grants.

Virginia is home to several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) that would be helped by the bill, including Norfolk StateUniversity, St. Paul's College, Hampton University, Virginia State University, Virginia Union University, and Virginia University of Lynchburg.

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