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ITEC Gets $600K For Broadband Adoption

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Lansing’s Information Technology Empowerment Center said Thursday it had been awarded $600,000 for work geared to sustainable broadband adoption, an effort that is part of a $5.2 million federal grant to Michigan State University.

ITEC will partner with Lansing Community College and Capital Area Michigan Works to offer high-tech training to mid-Michigan residents, developing and teaching the computer content needed for education and employment.

The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Commerce National Telecommunications and Information Administration, and is designed to help increase broadband use by providing training of emerging technologies for personal and business growth.

MSU College of Communication Arts and Sciences will oversee the entire grant, and will focus on educating and training citizens in Michigan’s Cities of Promise, including Benton Harbor, Detroit, Flint, Hamtramck, Highland Park, Muskegon Heights, Pontiac and Saginaw.

“We are honored to participate in this large-scale project, and recognize the opportunity we have to impact individual lives as we develop education opportunities that better prepare our Michigan workforce with information technology skills,” said George Stockman, MSU computer
science and engineering professor, and president of ITEC’s board of directors.

ITEC participated in the initial grant proposal, citing the established collaborations between MSU, Lansing Community College, state officials and community stakeholders, with courses already underway to help economically disadvantaged students increase confidence and
proficiency in science, technology, engineering and math.

“The mid-Michigan area benefits from the vast resources and diverse network of community partners working to transform our community through technology education,” said Hiram Fitzgerald, associate provost for University Outreach and Engagement at Michigan State University. “ITEC is an example of a successful collaboration between university and community resources and efforts, with so many working together to bring about positive change for our workforce.”

ITEC will develop the content, tools and training necessary to engage adult learners and promote sustainable broadband use. The goal is to move former manufacturing workers, unemployed and underemployed adults, to positions where IT skills are essential, but not necessarily the primary purpose of the job position.

“Working with our partners, we aim to inspire adult learners through challenging and creative course work and experiences, and seek to build confidence in students’ sense of technical proficiency,” said Kirk Riley, ITEC executive director. “The next step is to convey a sense of community by pairing the adult learners with mentors from the public, private and academic communities. We will strive to make these individuals aware of the relevance of education and information technology to their future.”

The grant announcement comes on the wave of other recently announced news for ITEC, including a $75,000 Impact Grant awarded by the Capital Region Community Foundation, with a another $75,000 matching grant from the City of Lansing. The Dart Foundation, TechSmith Corp, Dewpoint Inc., Spartan Internet and Google also support ITEC.

“The Sustainable Broadband Adoption proposal was strong because we have the support and confidence of so many local partners. Those involved with ITEC deeply appreciate the community response to our work,” said Riley. “We definitely look forward to working with Michigan State University, Lansing Community College and Capital Area Michigan Works to carry forward on an exciting opportunity to promote information technology in the 21st century and help our Michigan workforce.”

The broadband expansion for Cities of Promise grant is funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, better known as the federal stimulus, through its Broadband Technology Opportunities Program.

ITEC is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that works with students and families in the Capital region to build excitement for coursework and careers in science, technology, engineering and math. Working primarily with high school and middle school students, ITEC offers programs that develop academic and leadership skills, increase educational
performance and foster students’ confidence in their ability to compete professionally. ITEC’s vision is to enable Lansing area residents to acquire flexible, transferable technological skills that will allow them to participate in a fast-paced global economy. For more information about ITEC and its programs, please visit www.iteclansing.org.
(c) 2010, WWJ Newsradio 950. All rights reserved.

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