Extend the Benefits of Information Technology to Underserved Communities

Media 05.23,02

Recipient: U.S. Senate

The Honorable Ernest F. Hollings
Subcommittee on Commerce,
Justice, State, and the Judiciary
125 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Judd Gregg
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Commerce,
Justice, State, and the Judiciary
393 Russell Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Tom Harkin
Subcommittee on Labor,
Health and Human Services,
731 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

The Honorable Arlen Specter
Ranking Member
Subcommittee on Labor,
Health and Human Services,
711 Hart Senate Office Building
United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510

Dear Senators:

The undersigned civil rights, education, health, 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.


Alaska Federation of Natives
Alliance for Communications Democracy
Alliance for Community Media
Alliance for Latino Community Technology
Alliance for Public Technology
Alliance for Retired Americans
American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee
American Association for Affirmative Action
American Association of Community Colleges
American Association of People with Disabilities
American Association of University Women
American Civil Liberties Union
American Council of the Blind
American Federation of Government Employees
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees
American Federation of Teachers
American Foundation for the Blind
American Library Association
American Telemedicine Association
Association for the Advancement of Mexican Americans
Association of Community College Trustees
Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now
Association for Career and Technical Education
Athena Alliance
California Reinvestment Committee
Center for Community Change
Center for Digital Democracy
The Center for Women Policy Studies
The Children’s Defense Fund
Children’s Partnership
Citizens for Consumer Justice
College of Public and Community Service at the University of Massachusetts
Commission on Social Action of Reform Judaism
Communication Workers of America
Community Media Center
Community Technology Development, Inc.
Community Technology Foundation of California
Community Technology Policy Council
Community Transportation Association of America
Consortium for School Networking
Consumers Union
Digital Sisters, Inc.
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc.
East of the River Technology Collaborative
The Enterprise Foundation
Generations on Line
Greenlining Institute
Hermandad Mexicana Nacional
International Society for Technology in Education
Instructional Technology Council
The Jewish Labor Committee
Jewish Vocational Service of San Francisco
Labor Council for Latin American Advancement
Latino Issues Forum
Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Leadership Conference on Civil Rights
Local Initiatives Support Corporation
Making the Net Work
Manna Community Technology Center
Media Access Project
Medcenter One Health Systems
Mercy Housing, Inc.
Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund
National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees
National Asian Pacific American Legal Consortium
National Association for Equal Opportunity in Higher Education
National Association for Migrant Education
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
National Association of State Directors of Career Technical Education Consortium
National Capital Area Neighborhood Networks Consortium
National Coalition on Black Civic Participation
National Community Building Network
National Congress of American Indians
National Council of Churches
National Council of La Raza
National Council on the Aging
National Education Association
National Education Knowledge Industry Association
National Employment Lawyers Association
National Federation of Filipino American Associations
National Health Law Program, Inc.
National Hispanic Media Coalition
National Partnership for Women & Families
National Telecommunications Cooperative Association
National Urban League
Nexus Technology
North Texas Rural Network
OMB Watch
One Economy Corporation
OpNet Community Ventures, Inc.
Organization of Chinese Americans, Inc.
Organizations Concerned About Rural Education
Organizers’ Collaborative
People for the American Way
Presbyterian Church (USA), Washington Office
Prevention Institute
Project Venus
Richmond Improvement Association
Rural Coalition
The 2 M Center for Technology and Culture
Technology Leadership for Nonprofit Excellence
Technology Playground
Technology Works for Good
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
University Continuing Education Association
Urban Strategies Council
Washington Ethical Action Office, American Ethical Union
Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, US Section
YWCA of the U.S.A.

cc: U.S. Senate