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Sacred Heart University gets $3M grant to deploy broadband grid

The Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) announced it has awarded Sacred Heart University in Santurce a grant of nearly $3 million from the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMC).

Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves announced the award at a press conference in San Juan.

“Connected communities create empowered communities, fostering economic growth and well-being,” said Graves. “This grant will expand [Sacred Heart University’s] remote learning capacity and create new job and entrepreneurship opportunities.”

He added that Sacred Heart University participated in the competitive grants process, “competing against universities all and in institutions across the United States and was able to win, so congratulations on such an outstanding application.”

“[The Sacred Heart University] plays a critical role in getting affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet service — and the tools to use it — to its students and the surrounding community,” said Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information Alan Davidson.

“With this grant, the university will increase internet service speeds and provide digital skills training to its students so they can fully access the benefits Internet service brings,” he said.

NTIA plans to finish awarding all remaining funding available under the Connecting Minority Communities program in the first quarter of 2023.

This grant will help fund Sacred Heart University’s “Accessing Broadband Connectivity (ABC): A Pilot Project Catalyst in a Hispanic Institution and Communities Setting.” The project aims to expand educational instruction and remote learning opportunities, spur economic development, and create opportunities for employment and entrepreneurship by building the high-speed Internet and digital capacity at the private college.

“This is another example on how important it is that all of Puerto Rico’s institutions be engaged in constructing resilient high speed internet solutions to better serve all communities and focus con develop and train a much-needed workforce to make sure that the telecommunications industry is a more resilient one,” said Enrique A. Völckers Nin, Puerto Rico BroadBand Program executive director.

The funding is in addition to the more than $5.7 million that Puerto Rico received in December to begin its planning efforts for the deployment and adoption of affordable, equitable, and reliable, high-speed internet service throughout the archipelago under the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, Graves said.

“This planning funding is just the start, and it’s going to help ensure we get it right. Connected communities create empowered communities, fostering economic growth and well-being,” he said.

Meanwhile, Sacred Heart University President Gilberto Marxuach-Torrós said “this grant is transformational. Sacred Heart University’s technological infrastructure will make a quantum leap to the highest industry standards. We will be able to push forward our innovation agenda in our academic programs, student services and community engagements.”

“All members of our university community — students, faculty, staff, and alumni — and of the communities we serve will greatly benefit from our new capabilities. We are extremely grateful to the National Telecommunication & Information Administration for this historical opportunity,” he said.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 30 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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