Cities take Urban Challenge

Ten U.S. mayors accepted roughly $100,000 each in networking equipment and support services from 3Com Corp. for community technology initiatives.

The grants were awarded last week through the Santa Clara, Calif.-based company's Urban Challenge program, which rewards cities for programs to connect disadvantaged urban areas. 3Com's partners for the program are the U.S. Conference of Mayors and AmeriCorps, the domestic Peace Corps.

The winning cities are Atlanta; Detroit; Fort Worth, Texas; Indianapolis; Minneapolis; Oakland, Calif.; Philadelphia; Sandy City, Utah; Troy, N.Y.; and Vineland, N.J.

More than 80 cities applied for the competitive grants, said Larry Geller, manager of digital opportunity programs at 3Com. Last year, in the first round of grants, 10 cities also split $1 million.

Cities that receive equipment can apply to AmeriCorps for volunteers to help manage their programs. AmeriCorps will supply a three-person team for $9,000, the cost an organization or agency usually contributes to support one volunteer for a year.

The deadline to apply for the next round of grants is May 1. Information and applications are available at www.3com.com/urbanchallenge.

Winners will be announced in June at the U.S. Conference of Mayors summer meeting in Detroit.

The move to a semi-annual awards process is designed to maintain Urban Challenge's momentum and keep parties working to develop new plans, Geller said. He emphasized that award amounts and the number of grantees can vary from year to year.

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