Recipient: Labor HHS Education Conference
November 21, 2001
Dear Labor HHS Education Conferee:
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: Federal support of information technology so that all segments of society are able to participate fully in the new economy of the 21st Century.
Specifically, we are urging you to support full funding for the Department of Education’s Community Technology Centers (CTCs) program per the Senate request under the House and Senate Labor HHS Education FY02 Appropriations.
Community Technology Centers provide computers, Internet access and other related educational services to underserved communities who otherwise might have little or no opportunity for access to and utilization of communications technologies. Most people who visit CTCs do not own computers and many do not have access to computers at school or work. Through practice, classes, and mentors, program participants increase their IT literacy in skills valuable for expanding equality of educational and employment opportunity in a cost-effective manner. Over the last few years federal funding through the Department of Education’s CTC program has helped build on a national scale a network of centers. However, many of these existing CTCs would be terminated if funding were eliminated.
In his FY 2002 budget request, President Bush proposed increasing Federal support of Community Technology Centers. In recommending that the CTC program be transferred to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, President Bush’s economic blueprint stated, “The Community Technology Centers Initiative will enhance the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD’s) Neighborhood Networks program by providing $80 million in competitive grants to help communities create or expand technology centers in high poverty urban communities.” Since it appears that Congress has decided not to fund the CTC grant program at HUD, it is critical that the funding be continued at the Department of Education per the Senate request.
HHS Education Conferees
November 21, 2001
Last year’s CTC awards totaled $65 million, with 147 new grant awards made from a pool of over 1300 applications. In addition, renewals of prior year grants were also awarded. CTCs have been utilized for pre-school and family programs, after school activities, adult education and career development and job preparation. CTCs have helped individuals in acquiring English skills, tutoring, providing assistance with homework, obtaining job skills and learning about employment opportunities.
We are concerned that an elimination of funding for CTCs coupled with the 65% reduction in funding for the Technology Opportunities Program is a dramatic retrenchment in federal support for the adoption of information technology, a move that would imperil the ability of urban and rural underserved communities to learn, work, and participate in the 21st Century.
Given the importance of information-related skills to our economy and to compete in the global economy, we believe that access to and utilization of emerging technologies is both a critically important policy matter and a significant civil rights issue for the new millennium. These skills are more important than ever in order to provide a stimulus for our nation’s increasingly hi-tech, but struggling economy. Therefore, we urge you to support full funding for CTCs, a program that is helping to provide equitable access to advanced communications technologies for under-served communities.