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Minneapolis, MN 55411
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Broadband Access Project
What is the Broadband Access Project?
The Broadband Access Project is a $3.6-million initiative of the University of Minnesota's Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC) to improve high-speed internet (broadband) access, awareness, and use in four federally designated poverty zones in Minneapolis and St. Paul. The project supports development and enhancements of 11 community-based public computer centers (see map) for underserved populations, including African-Americans, Latinos, American Indian, and Asian and African immigrants.
What is the goal of this project?
The goal of the BAP is to help eliminate the digital divide by enhancing and expanding access to high-speed internet (broadband) in underserved communities to expand access to information about employment, education, health, and community and economic development. The project will open doors, enhance lives, and create access and job opportunities through technology.
Who are the community partners?
- Asian Community Technology Center (St. Paul)
- Centro (South Minneapolis)
- Glendale Townhomes-Minneapolis Public Housing (South Minneapolis)
- Hmong American Partnership (St. Paul)
- Lifetrack Resources (St. Paul)
- Patchwork Quilt (North Minneapolis)
- Phyllis Wheatley Community Center (North Minneapolis)
- Project for Pride in Living (North Minneapolis)
- Sabathani Community Center (South Minneapolis)
- YWCA Youth Achiever Program (St. Paul)
What are some of the benefits of the Broadband Access Project to the community?
- Establish two new and upgrade nine existing community-based public computer centers (PCC)
- Increase broadband speeds at participating PCC
- Create 24 BAP apprentice jobs in communities over the life of the grant
- Increase public awareness of how broadband can improve lives
How is the Broadband Access Project doing?
Halfway through the 3-year grant period as of May 2011, the project is meeting or exceeding most goals and expectations and receiving very positive feedback from the U.S. Department of Commerce, which oversees the grant for the project.
- Quarterly reports to the federal government show that the BAP is on track in nearly every area: User targets, curriculum development, training hours, employment of community members (and ongoing training/ development for apprentices), and outreach/awareness/education (the MMMC component).
- Overall user targets are on track and showing gains: 14,311 total users as of May 2011 (three-year target is 17,000). Total training hours provided as of May 2011: 5,005. During the first quarter of 2011, there were 2,847 hours of training (compared with 2,158 hours of training for all of 2010—continuing a trend of strong growth in the project).
- The BAP has developed a dynamic curriculum with 9 areas of focus, and also offers many types of trainings for community audiences, not-for-profit orgs, and small businesses. Partners also offer specialized trainings such as the St. Paul YWCA's Commercial Drivers License (consistent with economic stimulus/employment goals).
- Reflecting the project's emphasis on rigorous evaluation and ongoing development, BAP partners continue to evaluate and strengthen project curriculum, trainings, and operations to meet the needs of the populations and communities served. They also work continuously to strengthen on-the-ground outreach, reflecting the fact that this is a high-intensity project project serving urban communities with significant access barriers and outreach challenges. Outreach to those who have missed the digital revolution means building relationships block by block to identify those who could benefit from the trainings and classes and helping them see the value of coming to the computer labs.
For the most accurate information about the goals and accomplishments of this vitally important project, please check out the detailed project reports posted every quarter on the Broadband USA website, http://www2.ntia.doc.gov/grantees/RegentsofUnivMinnesota.
The BAP is a partnership among the University of Minnesota's Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center, its Office for Business and Community Economic Development, and the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium.
BAP is funded in part by a three-year $2.9-million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce (Award #27-42 B10003) with matching support of $740,000 from the University of Minnesota and community partners. The grant is part of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program for Public Computer Centers and Sustainable Broadband Adoption, under the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The University of Minnesota UROC building at Plymouth and Penn avenues in North Minneapolis is open Monday–Friday
from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.