Vice President Kamala Harris announced at the conclusion of the White House 2021 Tribal Nations Summit that the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has awarded the first three grants as part of the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program. These initial awards, totaling nearly $1.4 million, are being made to the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico, the Upper Mattaponi Tribe in Virginia, and the Sokaogon Chippewa Community Wisconsin. In June, Vice President Harris, Secretary Raimondo, and Secretary Haaland announced the availability of nearly $1 billion in tribal broadband funding during an event at the White House.
Two of the grants will support the provision of broadband services, computers, and digital skills training to tribal members and one will fund a tribal broadband planning project. More information on these three grants is provided in the table below.
NTIA is continuing to review the more than 280 remaining applications received during the application window, which closed on Sept. 1, 2021. The Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program will announce additional awards on a rolling basis as they go through NTIA’s review process.
“Indian country has been left out of critical investments in broadband infrastructure for far too long,” said U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina M. Raimondo. “The Biden Administration is committed to reversing that trend. Today’s awards will provide a range of benefits to tribes, including providing tribal members with Internet connectivity, devices, resources to fund broadband capacity and needs planning, as well as digital skills needed to thrive in 21st century.”
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, workforce development, telehealth, and distance learning. The recently enacted Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act provides an additional $2 billion in funding for this program. NTIA anticipates issuing a new Notice of Funding Opportunity for the additional funds.
“The strong demand for Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program grants underscores the broadband inequities that Native communities and their people face and the need for creative solutions, partnerships and support in closing their digital divide,” said Acting NTIA Administrator Evelyn Remaley. “We look forward to seeing the positive impact of today’s awards in tribal communities, and the broadband success of future awardees as they merge together the cultural, educational, medical, and economic fiber critical to closing the digital divide.”
NTIA is proud to be part of the federal government’s broadband investment portfolio. 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.