February 25, 2002
The Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR), the nation’s oldest, largest, and most diverse coalition of organizations committed to the protection of civil and human rights in the United States, writes to request your assistance on an issue of great importance to the civil rights community: continuing the federal government’s leadership in extending the benefits of information technology to underserved communities.
Specifically, we urge you to oppose President Bush’s plan to eliminate two critical community technology programs: The Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) administered by the Department of Commerce; and the Community Technology Center initiative administered by the Department of Education.
Over the past several years, the federal government, working in bipartisan fashion, has played an important leadership role in advancing public policies ensuring that all Americans, particularly those in underserved communities, are able to participate fully in the digital age. This leadership has been based on the recognition that technology literacy is fast becoming a basic life skill as technology is increasingly being interwoven into the fabric of our social, educational, economic, and civic life.
Unfortunately, Presidents Bush’s 2003 budget proposes to eliminate two critically important community technology programs:
The Technology Opportunities Program (TOP), administered by the Department of Commerce, provides matching grants to bring the benefits of innovative digital network technologies to underserved communities across the United States.
The Community Technology Center (CTC) initiative, a competitive grant program administered by the Department of Education, is a vital community-based resource providing a broad range of services in locations that are convenient to underserved and disenfranchised individuals.
By proposing to eliminate these two programs, President Bush’s budget risks creating a new class of people that are alienated and isolated from the new economy and the information age as we enter the 21st Century.
We urge you to oppose the elimination of TOP and CTC, two programs that are helping to provide equitable access to — and utilization of — advanced communications technologies for urban and rural underserved communities.
Dr. Dorothy I. Height