Marking one year of expanding high-speed Internet access in minority communities, NTIA’s Office of Minority Broadband Initiatives (OMBI) released its inaugural Annual Report. This report, required by the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 (CAA), details OMBI’s accomplishments over the office’s first year, identifies barriers to high-speed Internet access in minority communities, and outlines the office’s role in achieving digital equity across the United States.
Established in August 2021 within NTIA’s Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth (OICG), OMBI is the Department of Commerce’s leader in promoting equitable broadband access and adoption at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) and their surrounding anchor communities. Given their decades of investment in minority students and their communities, these institutions are effective catalysts for the expansion of high-speed Internet service.
The OMBI Annual Report summarizes OMBI’s current initiatives to support and build capacity in HBCUs, TCUs, and MSIs; outlines barriers to access for students, faculty, staff, and the surrounding anchor community; and provides recommendations to improve efforts to expand digital access and adoption. Examples of OMBI’s key 2021-2022 accomplishments highlighted in the report include:
- Administering the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program (CMC) and granting over $20 million in the program’s first ten awards
- Collaborating with federal, state, tribal, and anchor institution stakeholders through interagency outreach, partnerships with national advocacy organizations, and support of NTIA’s Digital Equity Leaders Network re-launch
- Building the capacity of anchor institutions and their communities through ongoing technical assistance activities exceeding 2000 participants