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Pryor Seeks to Tackle the Digital Divide in Higher Education

Location: Washington, DC

Pryor Seeks to Tackle the Digital Divide in Higher Education; Technology Bill Would Benefit Arkansas' Historically Black Colleges

WASHINGTON D.C. - Senator Mark Pryor today expressed his support for bolstering digital and wireless technology in minority serving colleges and universities as a way to ensure all students graduate with the necessary skills to succeed in the global workforce.

Pryor said the Minority Serving Institution Digital and Wireless Technology Opportunity Act of 2005, of which he is a cosponsor, would help tackle the digital divide by allocating $250 million in grants to Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Hispanic-serving institutions for upgrades in technology and telecommunications infrastructure. The grants can also be used to provide educational services for technology degrees and educator training, and to foster greater use of information technology in the science, engineering, mathematical and technology field.

"Technology and success go hand in hand in today's marketplace, which is why it is so important to address the digital divide that continues to exist in higher education today," Pryor said. "This bill helps close the divide while opening the door for new opportunities and innovation in colleges where resources can be sparse."

Pryor said the bill has already passed through the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and that he is looking forward to debating this issue on the floor of the Senate.

He noted that there are over two hundred Hispanic serving institutions and over one hundred Historically Black Colleges. If the legislation passes, Pryor said he is hopeful Arkansas' Historically Black Colleges and Universities would take advantage of the newly-created grant program, including University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff, Philander Smith College, Arkansas Baptist College and Shorter College.

"Higher education holds the promise of a brighter future for anyone who chooses to pursue it," Pryor said. "Let us work to ensure that wherever a student chooses to enroll, they be provided with the resources to give them an equal opportunity for success in the digital age."

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