Regents of the University of Minnesota

Broadband Access Project (BAP)

The Broadband Access Project proposes to enhance broadband awareness and use for residents in four federally-designated poverty zones in Minneapolis and St. Paul. These enhancements plan to better serve vulnerable populations, including African-Americans and Hmong and Somali immigrants whose needs are not currently being met because of financial, educational and technological constraints. The project plans to establish one new public computer center and improve 10 existing computer centers, adding 93 new workstations and replacing 49 existing workstations. The project intends to provide broadband speeds of at least 16 Mbps to these locations. The Broadband Access Project expects to provide broadband training to vulnerable, low-income, minority and immigrant populations to promote education, health care, workforce preparation and community revitalization. Plans include providing training to residents, not-for-profit organizations and small businesses to help create jobs and develop the skills necessary to compete in today’s economy. The project expects to train 17,000 people over the life of the grant. In addition, the Minnesota Multicultural Media Consortium plans to conduct culturally-specific outreach and translate project materials into languages spoken locally.

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BTOP In Action
IMG: An apprentice leads a training class at one of the public computer centers

St. Paul, Minnesota celebrated Broadband Access Day on December 9, 2010, in honor of the University of Minnesota’s (UMN) Broadband Access Project (BAP). The University is collaborating with 12 community organizations—four in St. Paul, three in South Minneapolis, and five in North Minneapolis—to expand access to high-speed Internet and the opportunities it brings in many areas of life.

The St. Paul public computer centers (PCCs) held grand opening events on December 9, welcoming representatives from municipal, county, state, and Federal elected offices, as well as community partners and PCC users. A bus took visitors to each of the four sites: Asian Community Technology Center, Hmong American Partnership, Lifetrack Resources, and the YWCA St. Paul.

Through UMN’s $2.9 million BTOP grant, the organization has renovated 11 public computer sites and has created 16 new jobs in the first year of the program. Training classes at each site are targeted at a wide variety of groups including small/disadvantaged/minority-owned businesses, nonprofit organizations, individuals, and community groups. Currently, users can choose from training classes including introductory Internet classes, Microsoft Office® suite basics, job search help, resume building, and college prep. BAP staff develops additional courses as needs arise.

BAP will primarily benefit individual PCC users, a wide range of people from all age groups, unemployed and underemployed, immigrants, and refugees – by helping them develop important computer skills, search for jobs, and enhance their education. In addition, non-profits affected by significant levels of funding cuts will have the opportunity to support staff development and small business owners will learn how to use technology to increase their customer base through online promotions and other communications.

Last Updated: October 18, 2011.

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