N.M. Delegation Announces Over $5 Million In Internet For All Federal Grants For Minority-Serving Colleges, Universities In New Mexico
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) and Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representatives Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.), Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.), and Gabe Vasquez (D-N.M.) announced a total of $5,277,082 for Eastern New Mexico University Roswell, New Mexico State University, and Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute through the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMC).
This federal grant funding will help expand community technology hubs, upgrade classroom technology, and increase digital literacy skills at minority serving colleges and universities.
“When I was studying to become an engineer in college, I can’t tell you how much of my own research could have benefitted from the incredible resources that are now available online. Today, it’s basically essential for students to have access to the high-speed internet to even log on to their classes. That’s why I’m proud to welcome these federal grants from the NTIA so that students at these minority serving institutions can have access to the internet, and more importantly, a future as bright as they are,” said Heinrich.
“In this digital age, equitable access to a reliable, high-speed internet connection is vital for students to succeed both in and out of the classroom,” said Luján, Chair of the Subcommittee on Communications, Media, and Broadband. “That’s why I am proud to welcome more than $5.2 million in federal funding to three Minority-Serving Institutions in New Mexico. This grant will help bridge the digital divide for colleges and universities and help ensure that students have access to the tools needed to be successful.”
“Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) do critical work in New Mexico. I’m grateful that these universities have received these Connecting Minority Communities grants,” said Leger Fernández. “Our students deserve high-quality internet connections to complete their education. As a Co-Chair of the Rural Broadband Caucus, I work to increase access to reliable, high-speed internet. These grants invest in our community and train New Mexicans for good-paying jobs.”
“Our students in New Mexico—including our Eagles at the Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute—are incredibly bright and full of boundless potential,” said Stansbury. “Too often, our Minority-Serving Institutions and rural communities have lacked access to the broadband resources they need to put our students on a level playing field with the rest of the country. As we work for more funding in Congress, I am proud that New Mexico institutions will be able to add $5 million to the effort to close the digital divide for all of our communities.”
“New Mexico is one of the worst ranked states for internet coverage, speed and availability. This is a great first step to expanding internet access in more rural areas, and I’m proud to announce that New Mexico State University is using the funding to support expanded broadband access across the state. As an alum of NMSU, I’m particularly excited about the research possibilities that will come because of expanded internet access,” said Vasquez. “Internet access is crucial for students to conduct valuable agricultural research that supports New Mexico’s farms, ranches, National Forests and more. I’m committed to fostering strong research environments for New Mexico’s students to discover more solutions from ecological restoration after fires to the expanded production of table grapes.”
The NTIA awarded the following funding to New Mexico Minority-Serving Colleges and Universities:
- $1,945,329 for Eastern New Mexico University Roswell for the “Creating Connected Communities to Provide Opportunities (Project C-3PO)” project which aims to increase broadband connectivity and computer aptitude in the communities of Roswell, Dexter, Lake Arthur, Hagerman, and Midway.
- $1,686,620 for New Mexico State University for the “Bringing Broadband to New Mexico State University and Surrounding Counties” project which aims to increase broadband connectivity by installing broadband internet equipment to provide access to individuals in the community. The project activities will expand internet access on South Campus; install broadband network infrastructure in the Farmington Center; and purchase equipment and upgrades for additional stations for the Forestry Research center in Mora and the Agricultural Science Center in Alcalde.
- $1,645,133 for Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute for “Parallel Network Upgrade” project which aims to expand broadband to improve campus-wide network technology accessibility for students, staff, and faculty. The project activities include preparation, design planning, installation, implementation of the network.
The Connecting Minority Communities pilot program is part of the Biden-Harris administration’s Internet for All Initiative to connect everyone in America with affordable, reliable high-speed Internet service. This program specifically directs $268 million from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 for expanding high-speed Internet access and connectivity to eligible HBCUs, Tribal Colleges or Universities (TCUs), and other Minority-serving institutions (MSIs).