The importance of internet connectivity in education was brought into sharp focus when the Covid-19 pandemic hit in early 2020 and almost all colleges and universities went online.
This month, one local educational institution received a boost for its internet connection infrastructure.
Mount Saint Mary’s University, which has campuses in Brentwood and University Park, has been awarded a grant of nearly $750,000 from the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration as part of a program to increase internet connectivity among minority communities.
The university qualifies because it’s classified as a minority-serving institution for the Hispanic and Asian/Pacific Islander communities: 54% of the 2,679 students enrolled last year were Hispanic, with another 13% listed as Asian/Pacific Islander.
Another key demographic for the university is that 89% of its enrolled students are women, making it only the second primarily women’s university in Los Angeles County; the other is Scripps College in Claremont, part of the Claremont Colleges system.
Mount Saint Mary’s University is one of five minority-serving colleges and universities receiving grants totaling over $10.5 million from this U.S. Commerce Department program. The grants will be used to fund Internet access and equipment, and to hire and train information technology personnel.
“Minority-serving institutions are key drivers of digital skills education and workforce development programs for communities across the country,” U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo said in the announcement. “They need robust connectivity and resources to continue to provide support.”