Reporter’s notebook

  • Commerce Department awards tech grants to MSIs
  • Ramping up the semiconductor workforce

Commerce Department awards tech grants to MSIs

The Biden administration on Monday announced that 61 minority-serving institutions, including about a dozen community colleges, will share in grants totaling $175 million through the Commerce Department’s Internet for All Grants program. These grants will help expand community technology hubs, upgrade classroom technology, and increase digital literacy skills at the colleges and universities.

“Access to affordable, reliable, high-speed Internet service is necessary for minority students and local communities to fully access school, healthcare and jobs,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a release. “The Department of Commerce has made a significant investment into minority-serving colleges and universities, and I am proud to say that all funding from the Connecting Minority Communities program has been distributed to help make Internet connectivity a reality for tens of thousands of students at minority-serving colleges and universities across the country.”

The community colleges and their grant awards (rounded up) are:

Visit for more information about the selected colleges’ projects.

Ramping up the semiconductor workforce

With help from recent historic federal investments, the U.S. is poised to revitalize domestic manufacturing, especially in the semiconductor sector, but it will only happen if there’s a skilled workforce ready for those jobs, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said in a speech last week on implementing the CHIPS and Science Act.

Speaking on Thursday at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, Raimondo said Commerce will invest $11 billion to develop a semiconductor R&D ecosystem to generate the ideas and the workforce needed to support these efforts. The focus of the investments will be on a National Semiconductor Technology Center. It will be a public-private partnership where government, industry, customers, suppliers, educational institutions, entrepreneurs, and investors converge to “innovate, connect, and solve problems,” she said.

Commerce will hold a webinar February 28 at 4 pm ET on funding opportunities through CHIPS for America. Register here.

CHIPS for America is going to create hundreds of thousands of good jobs that have the potential to change lives, offer family-sustaining benefits and lead to long-term careers,” Raimondo said, emphasizing the need for a trained workforce and the need for chip manufacturers, construction companies and unions to work toward the national goal of hiring and training another million women in construction over the next decade. She also called on semiconductor companies to work with high schools and community colleges to train 100,000 new technicians over the next decade through apprenticeships, career and technical education, and career pathway programs.

“If we don’t invest in America’s manufacturing workforce, it doesn’t matter how much we spend. We will not succeed,” Raimondo said. “If we get this right, the U.S. semiconductor workforce will be the gold standard for other industries to follow.”

About the Author

Matthew Dembicki
Matthew Dembicki edits Community College Daily and serves as associate vice president of communications for the American Association of Community Colleges.