DESC Sign-On Letter Opposing the Elimination of TOP and CTC

Media 03.27,02

Recipient: Public

Dear Senators:

The undersigned civil rights, education, indigenous, religious, women’s, public interest media and high-tech leaders have come together to request your assistance on an issue of great importance to our nation: continuing the federal government’s leadership in extending the benefits of information technology to underserved communities.

Specifically, we urge you to oppose the elimination of two critically important community technology programs: The Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) administered by the Department of Commerce; and the Community Technology Center (CTC) initiative administered by the Department of Education.

Over the past several years, the federal government, with bipartisan support, and in partnership with the private sector 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 and vitality of our educational, economic, social and civic lives.

Unfortunately, the budget for FY 2003 proposes to eliminate two modest but critically important community technology programs that provide vital seed money for digital opportunity in rural and urban communities:

The TOP program, 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 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, our nation risks creating a class of people that are alienated and isolated from the new economy and all the promise of 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 underserved communities.