On January 15, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration announced the second grant competition for the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP). The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA, or stimulus bill) provided approximately $7 billion to improve the nation's broadband infrastructure. BTOP is one of the programs administering these funds.
This grant round, which totals $2.6 billion, heavily prioritizes projects that serve the broadband needs of community anchor institutions, especially community colleges. Providing better broadband infrastructure to community colleges that need it is a specific priority by which grant applications will be ranked. This represents a significant opportunity, therefore, for colleges with needs in this area. AACC worked extensively with the Administration to provide them information about community college broadband capabilities and needs.
In addition, the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) will provide at least $150 million in funding for new or improved public computer centers, including those at community colleges. This is a continuation of this program from the first NOFA.
Grant applications are due between February 16 and March 15. The press release announcing the grant round, a fact sheet and the NOFA itself are available on the NTIA website. Other useful information is available at the Broadband USA site, including a subsite that helps prospective applicants forge partnerships and collaborations.