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LOWELL, Mass. ߝ U.S. Sen. John Kerry and U.S. Rep. Niki Tsongas announced that the University of Massachusetts Lowell will use nearly $1 million to expand infrastructure and access to broadband in the Merrimack Valley.
Close to 80 percent of that funding was awarded to UMass Lowell under the federal economic stimulus plan.
These U.S. Department of Commerce funds are available under the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), which provides grants to support the deployment of broadband infrastructure in unserved and underserved areas, enhance and expand public computer centers and encourage sustainable adoption of broadband service.
UMass Lowell's $780,000 broadband adoption grant will be supplemented with $196,000 in matching funds from the university to promote broadband awareness and computer literacy among vulnerable populations, including the nation’s second largest Cambodian population, low-income and at-risk youth, the unemployed, residents without college degrees, and seniors in Lowell and the Merrimack Valley.
As part of the program, UMass Lowell students will work in local computer centers with at-risk youth and senior citizens to develop appropriate training and outreach materials.
“This investment will empower UMass Lowell to help bridge the technological divide and create jobs throughout the Merrimack Valley. This means increasingly skilled citizens who will have access to greater opportunities,” said Kerry.
“Last fall, I strongly supported UMass Lowell’s request for these Recovery funds because they will help thousands of Greater Lowell and Merrimack Valley residents, who currently do not have broadband access, take advantage of the limitless resources that the Internet provides and which are so critical to competing in today’s global economy,” said Tsongas. “By making broadband available at places like the United Teen Equality Center (UTEC), the Boys & Girls Club, and public housing facilities, UMass Lowell is creating a pipeline to a better education and increased opportunity and should be commended for doing so.”
“UMass Lowell’s project provides an on-ramp to the information highway for the many under-served residents in the Merrimack Valley. By uniting an expert in the telecommunications industry with an experienced community engagement team, we can quantify the need for broadband while also expanding access to it,” said UMass Lowell Chancellor Marty Meehan.
UMass Lowell, with a national reputation in science, engineering and technology, is committed to educating students for lifelong success in a diverse world and conducting research and outreach activities that sustain the economic, environmental and social health of the region.. UML offers its 13,000 students more than 120 degree choices, internships, five-year combined bachelor’s to master’s programs and doctoral studies in the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Engineering and Management, the School of Health and Environment, and the Graduate School of Education. www.uml.edu.