Minnesota is part of a five-state partnership that received a 30-month federal Broadband Technology Opportunities Program grant through the U.S. Department of Commerce. The project, which aims to help economically vulnerable populations move across the digital divide, will increase broadband use by implementing Learner Web, an innovative online system of self-paced learning plans for adults. The $5.8 million grant includes $2.5 million in matching funds.
During the first six months of the grant, Minnesota will lead the development of learning plans focused on digital literacy, broadband consumer savvy and career pathways. These online instructional tools will be used in more than 60 community locations around the country to increase broadband use for those left behind in the digital divide. Volunteer tutors will be trained to help adults navigate the online courses.
The Minnesota Literacy Council will manage the Minnesota portion of the grant. Partnering organizations include:
- St. Paul Community Literacy Consortium
- Minnesota Workforce Centers in Ramsey County, Minneapolis South, Mankato, and New Ulm
- Minneapolis ABE
- McDonough Public Housing (St. Paul)
- Project for Pride in Living
The main grantee is Portland State University, where Learner Web originated and continues to develop under the leadership of Dr. Stephen Reder and partners in Minnesota, New York, Texas, New Orleans and Richmond, CA. The grant began October 1.