Elizabeth City State University awarded $2.1 million grant to expand high-speed connectivity in underserved communities

Elizabeth City State University has been awarded $2.1 million for a two-year program to help expand Internet connectivity in rural and underserved minority communities.

The grant, announced Tuesday, is one of 12 the Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is giving to historically minority-serving colleges and universities as part of its Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMC).

Elizabeth City State University

“Elizabeth City State University is an engaged community partner in northeastern North Carolina with a legacy of transforming lives, strengthening our communities and contributing to the growth of the region and state,” Dr. Karrie Dixon, chancellor at ECSU said in a statement on the grant.

“ECSU is grateful to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration for investing more than $2 million in an initiative that will significantly enhance the university’s technology infrastructure.” Dixon said, “Additionally, ECSU will partner with local government, foundation and educational entities to directly and positively impact children and families in under-represented and underserved populations. By providing access to high-speed broadband internet, we are closing the gap and opening a gateway of opportunities that will build more socially and economically equitable communities.”

ECSU is the smallest of the historically black college and universities (HBCUs) in the UNC System. After years of enrollment struggles, the university has seen a recent surge and a number of program expansions and large funding announcements. Last year, the university announced it would partner with Google for its HBCU career readiness program.

The two-year pilot program announced this week will see the university partnering with the Elizabeth City State University Foundation, Inc, Albermarle Commission/Albermarle Development Corporation and Northeastern Academy of Aerospace and Advanced Technology (NEAAAT) to increase connectivity for ECSU students as well as building infrastructure for broadband throughout the region.

More than one million households in North Carolina are without high-speed Internet access, according to the North Carolina Department of Information Technology (NCDIT). Through the grant, ECSU plans to expand the network infrastructure on campus for both on-campus and remote students, extend broadband connectivity to support K-12 STEM program and workforce training programs and improve broadband literacy in its surrounding communities.

“The Connecting Minority Communities project will have a significant affect for ECUS and our neighbors in fueling our collective ability to increase innovation locally and statewide,” said Dr. Farrah J. Ward, ECSU provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs. ” I would like to thank Dr. Kuldeep Rawat, dean of the School of Aviation, Health and Technology and Principal Investigator and the collaboration with ECSU’s University Advancement, for spearheading this grant. CMC represents one of ECSU’s largest interdisciplinary, campus-wide initiatives to date.”


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Elizabeth City State University awarded $2.1 million grant to expand high-speed connectivity in underserved communities