Commerce Grants to Ease 'Digital Divide'

U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary William Daley announced Wednesday that about $12.5 million in grants will be awarded this year to help close the gap between Americans with and without access to new technologies.

The grants are part of the Clinton Administration's goal of narrowing the now-infamous "digital divide" that exists between the nation's rich and poor.

Gregory Rohde, head of National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which administers the program, said the funds will be used to "provide otherwise disadvantaged populations, low-income persons and the less educated with access to information sources."

The grants will be awarded through the Technology Opportunities Program, formerly known as the Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program, which has awarded more than $135 million in matching grants since its inception in 1994.

This year, TOP, which is a competitive, merit-based program, is encouraging projects developed by smaller, locally based organizations that serve and represent technologically underserved communities.

The deadline for receiving applications is March 16, and more information is available online at www.ntia.doc.gov.

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