Civil Rights Coalition Applauds Preservation of Funding for Federal Community Technology Programs

Media 02.20.03

WASHINGTON ? Wade Henderson, Executive Director of the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse civil and human rights coalition, issued the following statement regarding Congress’ decision to preserve funding in the FY03 budget for the Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) and the Community Technology Center (CTC) initiative — two federal community technology programs slated for elimination by the Bush Administration.

“The fiscal year 2003 budget approved by Congress last week included continued funding for two critically important community technology programs that bring the benefits of technology to underserved communities across the United States — the Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) and the Community Technology Center (CTC) initiative. Both programs bring the benefits of innovative technologies to underserved communities.”

“The preservation of these programs represents an important victory for those who believe the federal government should continue playing a strong leadership role in ensuring all Americans have the technological access and skills needed to benefit from and participate fully in the Information Society.”

“Now more than ever, federal leadership is crucial to ensure that urban, rural, and Indian tribal land residents have access to technology and can acquire the high-tech job skills necessary to compete in the 21st Century economy.”

“I would like to thank those members of Congress who took the lead on preserving these programs, particularly former Senator Max Cleland (D-Ga.) and Senators Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) and Olympia J. Snowe (R-Maine). Thanks are also due to the committee chairman and ranking members also played a pivotal role: Senators Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.), Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) and Representatives Ralph Regula (R-Ohio), David Obey (D-Wis.), Frank Wolf (R-Va.), and Jose Serrano (D-N.Y.).”

“Most importantly, however, this victory was the quintessential coalition victory. More than 100 national organizations joined the Leadership Conference’s Digital Empowerment campaign, an effort to preserve and strengthen these important programs. Together with our member organizations, Consumers Union, CTCNet, PolicyLink, Leslie Harris and Associates, Benton Foundation, and Children’s Partnership, we provided important leadership to the nascent community technology grassroots movement at a critical time.”

“Despite this victory, the battle is far from over. Once again, the Bush Administration has called for the elimination of both programs in its FY04 budget proposal. Clearly, the need for continued leadership in this area continues.”