01 Feb 2023

Department of Commerce Awards SAU $1.9M for Broadband Upgrade and Digital Equity Initiative

Saint Augustine’s University (SAU) was awarded $1,943,715 from the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMC), funded by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) Department of Commerce for its University Broadband Upgrade and Digital Equity Initiative. 


The funding is part of the $33.5 million in grants announced by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to expand community technology hubs, upgrade classroom technology, and increase digital literacy skills at 12 minority-serving colleges and universities in 10 states.


“High-speed Internet service is going to create opportunities, increase productivity, and improve lives, particularly in communities that have too often been left behind.” said Deputy Secretary of Commerce Graves in a statement. “At the Commerce Department, we’re committed to seeing investments from initiatives like the Connecting Minority Communities program create opportunities for good jobs supported by equitable hiring, fair compensation, safe workplaces, and the tools and training needed for long-term success.”


The SAU Broadband Upgrade and Digital Equity Initiative aim to increase Internet bandwidth capacity and connectivity at SAU and build digital literacy skills to promote digital equity within the SAU campus and anchor communities.


“Expanding broadband access is essential for student success,” says SAU President Dr. Christine Johnson McPhail. “This award is evidence of the role SAU plays as a driver of digital equity and positions the university to fulfill its mission beyond its gates.”


The activities involved with the initiative include upgrading existing broadband facilities and resources to increase Internet bandwidth capacity and create a digital navigator program. Digital navigators will assist community members in Internet adoption and computing devices. In addition, the university will partner with the information technology (IT) minority business enterprise (MBE), Cycurion, to establish and maintain a cybersecurity program to improve the stewardship of its digital assets. SAU will also transform traditional classrooms into smart classroom environments.


“Our main focus is to expand SAU’s technology in the classrooms,” said SAU Chief Technology Officer Christopher Taylor. “In addition, receiving this award also provides the university with the support needed to serve its surrounding community through our public health and digital equity initiatives.”