StimulatingBroadband.com 03/26/2010 San Francisco - U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) yesterday announced the award of a $4.8 million federal broadband stimulus grant to the C.K. Bladin Foundation, headquartered in Grand Rapids, MN. The grant is in the sustainable broadband adoption category within the Broadband Technology Opportunities program (BTOP) of the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
The Foundation, the strongest voice over many years for improvement in rural broadband deployment throughout rural Minnesota, is the lead partner in a coalition of public and non-profit groups called the Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities (MIRC). The group will work to lift broadband adoption in 80 counties across the state.
“As a country, we have ensured that every American has access to telephone service and electricity – we must now do the same for broadband internet access,” said Klobuchar. “This project will ensure that rural communities throughout Minnesota have the training and tools necessary to utilize broadband technology.”
MIRC anticipates training as many as 2,500 individuals in computer literacy, online education, and workforce development, and plans to distribute 1,000 affordable refurbished computers to low-income, rural Minnesota residents. Funding will support the development of institutional broadband applications for schools and health care facilities to help increase broadband adoption.
Senator Klobuchar’s statement of yesterday quoted from the Executive Summary of the Blandin Foundation submitted with its broadband stimulus funding Round I application last August, stating MIRC additionally will:
Partner with the Association of Minnesota Counties and local mental health consortia to develop 10 regional Network of Care Web sites to provide information on local mental health resources.
Enable 30 Minnesota Workforce Centers to extend the operating hours of their computer centers by eight hours per week and provide additional digital literacy training.
Promote broadband best practices across economic sectors in 10 demonstration communities. These communities will receive intensive assistance, including funds for four local demonstration projects in each community to support expanding broadband access and adoption.