On August 18 and 19, staff from NTIA’s BroadbandUSA program provided further detail on the Notice of Funding Opportunity for the Connecting Minority Communities (CMC) Pilot Program. The CMC Pilot Program will provide $268 million in grant awards to eligible Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs), Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs), Minority-Serving Institutions (MSIs), and consortia applicants (led by HBCUs, TCUs and MSIs that include a minority business enterprise (MBE) or tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization) in anchor communities for broadband Internet access service, eligible equipment, or to hire and train information technology personnel.
The CMC Pilot Program was authorized by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, Division N, Title IX, Section 902, Public Law 116-260, 134 Stat. 1182 (Dec. 27, 2020) (Act). As required by the Act, NTIA published a Final Rule for the CMC Pilot Program on June 15, 2021, and a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) on August 3, 2021.
Moderated by Francine Alkisswani, Telecommunications Policy Analyst, NTIA, members of the CMC team provided a comprehensive overview of the programmatic details relevant to prospective applicants. In addition to the panelists below, Secretary Gina Raimondo provided a welcome and opening remarks for the webinar. Panelists included:
- Kevin Hughes, Broadband Program Specialist, NTIA
- Scott D. Woods, Senior Broadband Program Specialist, NTIA
- Emy Tseng, Senior Broadband Program Specialist, NTIA
- Michell Morton, Broadband Program Specialist, NTIA
- Karen Archer Perry, Senior Broadband Policy Analyst, NTIA
- Pandora Beasley-Timpson, Management & Program Analyst, NTIA
- Janice Wilkins, Broadband Program Specialist, NTIA
- Mercedes Martinez, Grants Officer, NIST
Hughes presented an overview of the program, general eligibility requirements for prospective applicants, program goals and objectives, and the CMC Anchor Community Eligibility Dashboard. Woods provided an overview of the CMC NOFO to include key application information, examples of acceptable/allowable program purposes, and eligible and ineligible program costs and activities.
Allowable program purposes include:
- Building the broadband and information technology capacity of the educational institution
- Providing remote instruction and learning opportunities targeting low income and in-need students
- Hiring and training information technology personnel and developing a diverse information technology workforce
- Promoting broadband access, adoption, and digital inclusion within anchor communities
- Supporting broadband and information technology-related operations of an MBE or 501(c)(3) organization within designated anchor communities
- Promoting inclusive innovation, workforce and economic development, and entrepreneurship within designated anchor communities
Tseng and Morton provided specific examples of project activities that would be eligible for CMC funding.
Martinez addressed the Grants.gov application submission process. Applicants should review Section IV of the NOFO for the specific application submission requirements. Applicants must provide a DUNS number and have current registrations in the System for Award Management (SAM.gov) and Grants.gov. Martinez provided an overview of the required Federal Standard Forms, highlighted particular sections of the SF-424, and provided guidance for attaching and formatting required documents.
Next, Wilkins, Perry, and Beasley-Timpson provided information regarding NTIA’s application review process, evaluation criteria, selection factors, post-award requirements, and next steps.
During the question and answer portion of the webinar, panelists answered questions regarding a variety of technical and programmatic topics.
As a reminder, complete applications for the CMC Pilot Program must be received no later than 11:59 p.m. EST on December 1, 2021. For more information about the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program, links to previous CMC webinars, the CMC Final Rule, the NOFO, and Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), please visit the CMC Pilot Program webpage. Please register for our next scheduled CMC Pilot Program webinars on September 22 and 23.