$6M grant to increase broadband
Michigan State University has been awarded a $6 million federal grant that will help expand broadband access by creating more public computer centers in Michigan’s urban areas.
Having more centers, and more computers, available is crucial if Michigan hopes to retrain a workforce in transition, as well as provide additional resources for job hunting, youth and adult education, and health care access.
The grant will be used to increase the numbers of computers in libraries, public housing centers, tribal community centers, other community centers and community colleges. A total of 207 locations will receive 2,232 computers.
The grant will continue the work which is already under way in Michigan, said Kurt DeMaagd, an MSU assistant professor of telecommunication, information studies and media who is leading the project.
The award will cover the costs of the computers and training for both MSU and community college students to set up the computer centers. It also will assist in the expansion of the available services at the Michigan e-Library, which will provide additional resources to all libraries, schools, businesses and residents in the state.
“Through this project, Michigan will have technology infrastructure statewide, which is vital for our state and residents to flourish and prosper,” he said. “MSU students and community college students will be working side by side with us to set up the technology infrastructure and boost areas of our state that need critical assistance.”
One goal is to reach Michigan’s Cities of Promise, a group of eight economically challenged urban centers that are part of the governor’s economic development focus. These include Benton Harbor, Detroit, Flint, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Muskegon Heights, Pontiac and Saginaw.
In the first round of funding – a $1 million grant announced earlier this year – MSU began installing computers in 88 existing library computer centers and establishing new centers to provide broadband access for people in 15 underserved counties of Michigan, adding 500 workstations and serving an additional 13,000 users. Those centers are located primarily in rural areas of Michigan.
“Michigan State University is poised to lead statewide efforts to strategically deploy broadband solutions to help Michigan transition from a manufacturing-based economy to the new information economy,” said Pamela Whitten, dean of MSU’s College of Communication Arts and Sciences, which houses the grants. “These funds will enable MSU to work with key partners throughout the state to create strategic public computing centers and ensure sustainable broadband adoption throughout Michigan.”
Working with MSU on this project are the Michigan Department of Information Technology, Library of Michigan, other state and local government agencies, and regional broadband providers.
MSU is working with Jackson Community College, Lansing Community College, and Mott Community College both as recipients of computer centers and by involving students in the internship program to install the systems. Additional community partners will help to enhance capacity to successfully expand the computer center capacity throughout Michigan.
The grant, administered by the U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration, is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 through the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.
Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.