CCP receives $3.9M grant for new Broadband Internet Pilot Program

By Chanel Hill

Community College of Philadelphia and the U.S. Department of Commerce will launch a collaborative broadband pilot program that will improve connectivity and provide workforce development training and resources for residents in Philadelphia.

Funded by a $2.9 million grant through the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the pilot program is designed to bridge the digital gap and create jobs for residents in underserved communities.

“There is a digital divide in Philadelphia that prevents minority communities from accessing technology resources,” said Community College of Philadelphia President Donald Generals.

“The Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program is a major step in our efforts to bridge that digital divide and create pathways to success for students at Community College of Philadelphia and the residents of this city,” Generals said.

The program will consist of a newly created Digital Equity Alliance, which will include the college, PCs for People, a national nonprofit that provides technology access and support to low-income individuals and families; BlocPower, a climate technology company that provides clean energy and technology solutions; and Wilco Inc., a Philadelphia-based technology company that provides security services and smart access by converging real estate, technology innovation and community impact.

The project will be implemented through various phases. The first phase will improve broadband infrastructure at multiple sites including CCP’s Career and Advanced Technology Center and deploying wireless 5G infrastructure in target communities in West Philadelphia.

The second phase will provide 300 laptops and broadband modems as well as other critical technology to Philadelphia residents.

During the final phase, CCP will provide workforce development training to 150 students through the Amazon Web Services Academy, which is a program for higher education institutions that focuses on cloud computing, cybersecurity and other in-demand technology skills.

Partners of the grant will also facilitate smart energy and technology workforce development workshops to an additional 40 participants located in the pilot demographics.

“This collaboration aligns perfectly with our commitment to empowering individuals through affordable technology and digital skills, ensuring that no one is behind in the digital age,” said Bryan Mauk, chief innovation officer of PCs for People, in a statement.

“The devices of this project are provided through our model to recycle retired devices from businesses, securely wipe their data, refurbish them and then provide them at a low cost to customers,” Mauk said.

“We invite any businesses interested in recycling their used computers with us to reach out and join our mission to bridge the digital divide in Philadelphia.”

According to the City’s Household Internet Assessment Survey in 2021, 84% of Philadelphia households have high-speed internet connections and 75% have a working desktop or laptop computer.

About 9% of city households use a discounted provider such as Comcast Internet Essentials, Emergency Broadband or PHLConnectED, and 17% of low-income households have their internet access due to discounted offers.

Nearly 50% of city households said they could not afford the cost of a computer and 56% said affordability of high-speed internet at home was a major obstacle.

“After leading the City’s ‘Connecting Philadelphia, 2021 Household Internet Assessment Survey,’ to now collaborating with Community College of Philadelphia to design and deploy a wireless mesh network fueled to provide affordable internet services while enabling smart tech workforce opportunities for West Philadelphians, is not only historic, but a perfect thrust forward for digital equity,” said Brigitte Daniel-Corbin, chief executive officer of Wilco, in a statement.

“We are honored to join the newly created Digital Equity Alliance of Philadelphia and thrilled for the impact this broadband grant can bring to vulnerable communities perfectly situated within prime innovation corridors of our City.”

Chanel Hill is a reporter for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this story first appeared. 

Originally published at,by Special to the Capital-Star

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