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Forbes Applauds Passage of Grant Program for Minority Serving Institutions
Washington, D.C., Jul 31, 2008 -
Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04) today voted in favor of the Conference Report on H.R. 4137, the Higher Education Opportunity Act, which passed the House by a vote of 380-49. The bill includes provisions to establish a new Minority Serving Institution (MSI) grant program to help Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Hispanic Serving Institutions, and Tribal Colleges bridge the economic opportunity gap. The grant program was originally introduced by Congressman Forbes and Congressman Edolphus Towns (D-NY) as H.R. 921 three years ago.
“Bridging the digital divide has been a priority for me throughout my time in Congress. Full access to technology is a standard component of success in today’s business world. Integrating technology into our nation’s Minority Serving Institutions will strengthen the overall workforce and allow students from these institutions to compete equally with students from other universities to qualify for America’s best paying jobs,” Forbes said. “I have sponsored MSI legislation in the past three Congresses, and now we are just a few steps away from seeing this important piece of legislation become law.”
The Minority Serving Institution Digital and Wireless Technology grant program will assist Minority Serving Institutions by providing the technology tools necessary to prepare their students to engage and participate in today’s workforce. This has become more critical as countries across the world have become increasingly competitive with the United States, with science and math scores equaling or exceeding average scores for American students.
While 55 percent of the U.S population has internet access at home, only 36 percent of African-American and Hispanic households have access, according to a U.S. Census report issued in October 2005, which means many of these individuals rely on access to technology elsewhere. However, almost 90 percent of HBCUs only have a minimum standard of internet connectivity. This bill would allow Minority Serving Institutions to apply for grants to purchase technology, provide technical assistance, provide professional development, and foster the use of technology to increase engineering, math and science research to eliminate this “digital divide.”
"I am thrilled to see the inclusion of this critical grant funding for MSI's in the Higher Education Opportunity Act. This represents an important first step in closing the digital divide and insuring equal opportunity for all students," said Congressman Towns (NY-10).
“This legislation is about much more than just equality in education; it is about economic advancement and ensuring that America retains its edge in the math, science and technology fields – a critically important requirement in today’s increasingly competitive global environment,” said Forbes. “MSIs have made important contributions to the United States, and it is fitting to honor these contributions by ensuring access to the right technologies.”
In Virginia, there are six HBCUs that could benefit from this program: Virginia State University, Norfolk State University, St. Paul’s College, Virginia Union University, Virginia University of Lynchburg, and Hampton University. For more on what Congressman Forbes has done to support technology, visit: http://forbes.house.gov/issues/technology.htm.
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