The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information  Administration (NTIA) announced today it has awarded three grants as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. These grants of $500,000 each are being awarded to the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians in Lincoln, Ore., and two Alaska Native villages: the Village of Clarks Point  and the Native Village of Selawik. 

The two Alaskan grants will fund broadband use and adoption projects, while the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians will use their grant for a planning study, a crucial step in the connectivity process. NTIA has now made a total of seven awards, totaling about $4 million in funding, through the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. 

“These grants will help tribal communities connect so they can work remotely, access medical care, and communicate with friends and family,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information. “In the months to come, the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program will continue to roll out resources so we can close the digital divide on tribal lands.” 

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The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, which was funded by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, makes $980 million available for grants to eligible Native American, Alaska Native, and Native Hawaiian entities for broadband deployment, digital inclusion, distance learning, telehealth, and workforce development.

The grant to the Village of Clarks Point is meant to provide all tribal members negatively impacted by COVID-19 with access to technology and Internet services at no cost, while the grant to the Native Village of Selawik is meant to provide affordable broadband services through payment assistance programs to new and existing subscribers. It will also provide some tribal members seeking to re-enter the workforce with laptops or tablets. 

The recently enacted Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provides an additional $2 billion in funding for this program, as part of an historic $65 billion investment to expand broadband in communities across the U.S. 

NTIA is preparing to launch a series of new broadband grant programs that intends to build broadband infrastructure across the country, create more low-cost broadband service options, and address the digital equity and inclusion needs. 

Additional broadband funding may be available through the Department of Treasury’s American Rescue Plan Funds. The BroadbandUSA Federal Funding Guide also compiles federal funding opportunities for  expanding and improving broadband access. 

More information about the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program can be found on the BroadbandUSA website.

NTIA will announce additional awards on a rolling basis as they go through the Department of Commerce’s review process.

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Author: Valerie Vande PanneEmail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Valerie Vande Panne is managing editor of Native News Online. A longtime journalist, Ms. Vande Panne was editor-in-chief of Detroit's alt-weekly the Metro Times and news editor of High Times magazine. Ms. Vande Panne has also been a reporter at WGCU, the NPR and PBS affiliate in Southwest Florida, and she has been a stringer for The New York Times and Reuters. Her work has also appeared in Bloomberg, Columbia Journalism Review, The Guardian, Harvard Law Today, Politico, and Salon, among many other publications. Ms. Vande Panne matriculated at and attended Harvard University.