Vice President Kamala Harris announced the availability of nearly $1 billion in U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) grants to expand broadband access and adoption on Tribal lands.

At the White House announcement on June 3, Harris was joined by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland. The leaders issued joint calls for significant broadband investments in the American Jobs Plan to make affordable high-speed internet available to all Americans.

“These investments will help many Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian communities gain long-overdue access to life-saving technologies, economic opportunities, remote learning, and countless other benefits,” said Secretary Raimondo. “This funding is an important step forward, but we cannot stop here. Access to broadband is as essential as electricity to our everyday life. Under President Biden’s American Jobs Plan, we will have the resources to deploy high-quality broadband infrastructure to every Tribal community.”

The grants will be made available via the Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program, which was established by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021. Eligible Native American, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian entities will be able to use the grants for broadband deployment, as well as for digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth, and distance learning.

“For generations, a lack of infrastructure investment in Indian Country has left Tribes further behind in the digital divide than most areas of the country,” said Secretary Haaland. “We have a responsibility as a country to build infrastructure that will fuel economic development, keep communities safe, and ensure everyone has opportunities to succeed.”

The Biden Administration said the NTIA is currently seeking infrastructure projects that expand broadband access on Tribal lands and as mandated by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, NTIA is prioritizing deploying broadband infrastructure to unserved households.

Applications for grant funding are due by Sept. 1, 2021.

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs