Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology was one of the first five colleges or universities to receive funding through the Department of Commerce's National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) as a part of the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMC).
The grant, totaling over $750,000, is part of a nationwide effort by the Biden-Harris administration to provide affordable, reliable high-speed internet access to everyone, regardless of their rural location or socioeconomic status, and OSU Institute of Technology was selected as a trailblazer for the initiative.
"This grant opens a pathway for OSUIT to be proactive in addressing the digital divide through the implementation of a Fiber Optic Technician Training program and will increase the talent pipeline for Oklahoma's telecommunications industry," said Brandon Dinsmore, NTIA program coordinator at OSUIT. "This provides OSUIT with the opportunity to give back to the local community by equipping individuals with broadband services and removes barriers that would normally prohibit access to high-speed internet."
The funds received by OSUIT will supply high-speed internet access and connectivity to qualifying students and residents, promoting industry growth and increasing demand for workforce-ready Fiber Optic technicians.
"East Central Electric Cooperative and ecoLINK have a long history of partnership with OSUIT; from serving on advisory committees, providing scholarships and teachers, to hiring graduates," said Jeremy Hendrickson, Director of Broadband Operations with East Central Electric Cooperative.
Industry partnerships are vital to OSUIT and have a crucial role in meeting the skills
gap and community prosperity during periods of rapid industry growth, like the partnership
between OSUIT and East Central Electric Cooperative.
"East Central Electric Cooperative was excited to partner with OSUIT and played a part in promoting this initiative in our communities," said Jeremy Hendrickson, Director of Broadband Operations with East Central Electric Cooperative. "OSUIT shares our cooperative principles of Concern for Community and Education, Training and Information. This collaboration supports both through additional education and training programs and by establishing high tech jobs and economic opportunity in our communities."
He encourages anyone considering the Advance Fiber Technician training program to
apply for acceptance into the newly expanded program, stating, "OSUIT is a trusted
partner that provides valuable industry training and the most employable graduates."
Grant applications were reviewed and awarded by NTIA using a three-stage process: Initial Administrative and Eligibility Review of Complete Application Packets, Merit Review, and Programmatic Review.
The final allocation of grant funds will be awarded so that at least 40% of funds are distributed to qualifying HBCUs, and at least 20% are distributed to applicants that provide high-speed internet access service and/or eligible equipment to their students.
"America's minority-serving colleges and universities are bedrock learning centers that have too often been left behind when it comes to accessing affordable high-speed internet," said Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves. "The Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program enables these institutions to be a resource for access, digital skills training, and workforce development programs for students and the community to help level the economic playing field."
For additional information on the Fiber Optics program offered at OSUIT, contact Brandon
Dinsmore at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on the Biden-Harris Administration's high-speed internet programs and the awardees and grants, please visit InternetforAll.gov.