Winter 2004-2005

FY 2005 Federal Community Technology Appropriations
by Ryan Turner

CTCNet has actively monitored the funding outlook for federal investments in community technology for the year ahead. 2005 will present a mixture of challenges and opportunities for the community technology field. Congress recently passed a spending package that not only included a large number of cuts for important programs, such as the federal Community Technology Centers program, but also the stunning elimination of the Technology Opportunities Program (TOP). That said, a number of other areas, including the 21st Century Learning Centers program and the Neighborhood Networks initiative received continued or increased funding.

The overall picture suggests that in light of a daunting economic picture, including the erosion of new federal dollars for programs of interest and continued shortfalls at the state level, community technology interests must focus attention on previously untapped or underutilized programs, including those emphasizing the implementation of effective program models, instead of purely demonstration grant activities. Additionally, resources that encourage collaboration and partnership across disciplines will
increasingly shape the federal funding picture for the field.

Department of Agriculture

Distance Learning,Telemedicine, and Broadband Program: $56.4 million (House request: $44.6 million; Senate request: $60 million)

Conference agreement provides $35 million for distance learning and telemedicine grants ($10 million for public broadcasting system grants, $710,000 for distance learning and telemedicine loan subsidy); $11.7 million in loan subsidies and $9 million in grants for broadband activity. Also provides estimated loan program levels of up to $50 million for distance learning and telemedicine, and $550 million for broadband telecommunications.

Rural Telephone Bank: $175 million (in line with House and Senate requests)

Loan financing program assisting rural telecommunications companies to improve and expand telecommunications service in rural areas.

Department of Commerce

Advanced Technology Program: $142.3 million (House request: $0; Senate request: $203 million)

Provides support for research and development of innovative technologies through early financial support, research support, peer-review and evaluation for projects developed in partnership with for-profit companies of all sizes, universities and non-profits. Conference report did not adopt specific language requested by the Senate for new awards to be made.

Public Telecommunications Facilities Program: $21.8 million (in line with Senate request; House request: $2.5 million)

Competitive grant program that helps public broadcasting stations, state and local governments, Indian Tribes, and nonprofit organizations construct facilities to bring educational and cultural programs to the American public using broadcast and non-broadcast telecommunications technologies.

Technology Opportunities Program: $0 (in line with House request; Senate request: $14.8 million)

Competitive grant program to demonstrating practical applications of new telecommunications and information technologies to serve the public interest. Will continue to fund and administer existing grant obligations. [See commentary in this issue by Anthony Wilhelm and Michael Maranda]

Corporation for National and Community Service

VISTA: $95 million (House request: $93.7 million; Senate request: $96.4 million)

AmeriCorps*VISTA members serve in hundreds of nonprofit organizations and public agencies throughout the country working to fight illiteracy, improve health services, create businesses, increase housing opportunities, or bridge the digital divide.

Department of Education

21st Century Learning Centers: $999 million (conference agreement with House request; Senate request: $1 billion)

Post-school day opportunities for students and their families through centers providing expanded academic enrichment opportunities for children attending low performing schools in collaboration with other public and non-profit agencies, organizations, local businesses, post- secondary institutions, scientific/cultural and other community entities. Tutorial services and academic enrichment activities are designed to help students meet local and state academic standards in subjects such as reading and math. In addition 21st CCLC programs provide youth development activities, drug and violence prevention programs, technology education programs, art, music and recreation programs, counseling and character education to enhance the academic component of the program.

Community Technology Centers: $5 million (House request: $0; Senate request: $11 million) Creates or expand community technology centers that provide disadvantaged residents of economically distressed urban and rural communities with access to information technology and training on how to use it. Organizations such as foundations, museums, libraries, private non- profit organizations and faith-based organizations that have the capacity to significantly expand access to computers and related services for disadvantaged residents of economically distressed communities are eligible to apply.

Education Technology State Grants: $500 million (House request: $600 million; Senate request: $691.8 million)

Main federal initiative supporting the integration of technology into classroom instruction through formula grants to the states.

Department of Health and Human Services

Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives: $1.38 million (conference agreement with Senate request; House request: $1.4 million)

Provides information and training for community and faith-based organizations with respect to HHS programs

Compassion Capital Fund: $55 million (conference agreement with House request; Senate request: $47.7 million

Helps faith-based and community organizations increase their effectiveness and enhance their ability to provide social services to serve those most in need through two grant programs, the Demonstration Program (intermediaries) and the Targeted Capacity Building Program (mini- grants).

Department of Housing and Urban Development

Neighborhood Networks: $15 million (conference agreement with Senate request) Competitive grants under the Public Housing Capital Fund to establish and operate computer centers in and around public housing, so that residents can have access to the technology skills that are increasingly important in the 21st century workplace. Up to an additional $1 million will be available for technical assistance to these centers, and to allow centers to serve individuals receiving other forms of housing assistance.

Department of Labor

Community College/Community-Based Job Training Grants : $250 million (conference agreement with President's budget request)

New initiative to strengthen partnerships among workforce investment boards, community colleges, and employers to train workers for high growth, high demand industries in the new economy.

One Stop Career Centers: $98.7 million (conference agreement)

One-Stop Centers bring together employment and training services that work with all people into one place and make it easier for job seekers and employers to use these services. Services available through the One-Stop system include such things as: information about job vacancies, career options, and relevant employment trends; instruction on how to conduct a job search, write a resume, or interview with an employer; referral to training programs and unemployment insurance claim processing.

Ryan Turner
Ryan Turner is CTCNet's Director of Policy and Communications.

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