Attn: Telecommunications and Appropriations Staff
September 11, 1996
We are a diverse coalition of organizations writing to urge you to vote for the Amendment to add $17.5 million of funding for the Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (TIIAP) to be offered by Senator Bob Kerrey (D-NE) to the Senate Appropriations bill for Commerce, Justice, State, and the Judiciary, H.R. 3814.
TIIAP, a program administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), matches private contributions with government funds to promote the development and widespread availability of advanced telecommunications technologies. Through TIIAP projects, people who may not otherwise have the means or opportunity -- such as people in rural and low income areas and citizens with disabilities -- are able to tap into the wealth of information that is accessible via advanced telecommunications technologies. TIIAP funds are used to purchase equipment for connection to communications networks such as the Internet, to train people in the use of equipment and software, and to purchase telephone links and access to commercial on-line services.
Resources such as the Internet play an increasing role in many facets of the lives of all Americans. School children are able to benefit from a wealth of educational information not otherwise available to them, citizens are able to engage in an active discussion of public issues, and Americans in rural areas are able to access health care-related and other important information without having to travel far distances. To fully realize the benefits of advanced technologies, however, every American must have the opportunity to access these resources. TIIAP-funded support helps to realize this goal by extending advanced telecommunications capabilities, in conjunction with the private sector, to people and places that would otherwise be left out.
Recipients of the grants have included local governments, universities, schools, and libraries. Listed below are just a few examples of how TIIAP has helped these groups utilize telecommunications systems for education, community development and ultimately for economic empowerment:
- TIIAP grants in Oregon helped develop a community network designed to electronically link Native American tribes in the Columbia River basin. The network will help the tribes manage the economically and culturally important fisheries of the Columbia River System by providing access to and communication with the Fish Commission, and the State and Federal government.
- In New Hampshire, TIIAP funds gave many of the state*s neediest families increased access to public and private assistance programs. Due to a lack of public transportation, simple application forms, and awareness of existing programs, the rural residents of Concord were previously unable to receive the help they needed. Sites for the SafetyNet network were installed in various ideal locations, such as near a central fire station, in a Head Start center, and in a transitional shelter for families.
- In Montana, Big Horn Telecommunications Project received TIIAP funds to provide teachers, students, library patrons, medical patients, business people and government officials in the poorest county in Montana access to information via the Internet. The Project will, for example, enable students from kindergarten to college to have access to a *virtual library collection* by linking area libraries with those at universities in Billings.
- The very rural and remote Piedmont region of South Carolina received TIIAP funds to create a high-tech fiber optic network linking high schools, the technical college, and area businesses. This network will allow more than 6,000 students to benefit from advanced placement courses, access to the Internet, and numerous other educational opportunities which would have been impossible without the TIIAP funding.
- A public school system in Nebraska used TIIAP funds to create an electronic community within a rural impoverished community. The Metropolitan Area Network will link the city of Beatrice, its local community college, and its public schools. Members of the community will receive Internet training so that they can access both local and statewide information.
- TIIAP funding in West Virginia helped enable isolated, rural mountain communities access much needed information services through their local libraries. Project InfoMine links local libraries with the resources of larger college libraries. It also enables unemployed miners to find off-site work information or retraining opportunities and gives expectant mothers important health, diet, and childcare information.
In a time of significant budget cutting, TIIAP provides the seeds to help forge partnerships with the private sector to ensure that telecommunications technologies live up to their potential to enhance education, library services, health care, community services, civic participation and much more. The TIIAP is a modest program which can contribute significantly to the development of a truly National Information Infrastructure.
We urge you to support the Kerrey Amendment to H.R. 3814 that will appropriate critical funding for the TIIAP program for fiscal year 1997.
Very truly yours,
Alliance for Community Media
Alliance for Public Technology
American Arts Alliance
American Association of Community Colleges
American Association of Law Libraries
American Association of Museums
American Association of School Administrators
American Civil Liberties Union
American Psychological Association
American Symphony Orchestra League
Art Libraries Society of North America
Association of Art Museum Directors
Association of Research Libraries
Center for Media Education
Chittenden Community Television - Burlington, VT
Colorado Association of Nonprofit Organizations
Communications Workers of America
Community Technology Center*s Network
Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility - Braintree, MA
Consortium for School Networking
Council for Educational Development and Research
Council of Chief State School Officers
Council of Literary Magazines and Presses
The Dream Yard Drama Project
Foundation for Minority Interests in Media, Inc.
Friends of the Earth
Fund for the City of New York
Hull House Association - Chicago, IL
Illinois Arts Alliance
Instructional Telecommunications Council
Libraries for the Future
Magazine Publishers of America
Media Access Project
Media Working Group, Inc. - Covington, KY Mills College Art Gallery - Oakland, CA
Minority Media and Telecommunications Council
Montreat College - Montreat, NC
Museum Computer Network
National Assembly of Local Arts Agencies
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
National Association of Community Colleges
National Association of Independent Schools
National Association of the Deaf
National Association of Secondary School Principals
National Campaign for Freedom of Expression
National Catholic Educational Association
National Education Association
National Federation of Community Broadcasters
National Initiative for a Networked Cultural Heritage
National Minority Public Broadcasting Consortia
National Priorities Project, Inc.
National Public Telecomputing Network
National Rural Education Association
National Rural Electric Cooperative Association
National School Boards Association
National Trust for the Development of African-American Men
NorthEast Chicago Community Network
Ohio Community Computing Center Network
People For the American Way Action Fund
Self Help for Hard of Hearing People
Somerville Community Access TV - Somerville, MA
Telecommunications for the Deaf, Inc.
The Inner-City Net - San Diego, CA
The Lightspan Partnership, Inc.
The Literary Network
The Neighborhood Centers Association - Cleveland, OH
The River Project/Minneapolis Telecommunications Network
Union Producers and Programmers Network
United Church of Christ, Office of Communication
Urban Libraries Council
Visual Resources Association
Virtually Wired Educational Foundation - Boston, MA
Writers Guild of America, East, Inc.