Detroit Digital Justice Coalition Awarded $2 Million to Enhance Local Information Economy

Open Technology Initiative Continues Successful Support for Broadband Stimulus Projects
Published:   September 28, 2010

For Immediate Release

New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative announced that the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition (DDJC) is receiving approximately $2 million in federal stimulus funds to expand its community organizing and economic development efforts in Detroit, Hamtramck, and Highland Park, Michigan. The Open Technology Initiative has supported the DDJC since its inception in 2009. The federal grant comes through a partnership between the DDJC and Michigan State University.

Over the next two years, the grant will support partnerships between local digital media entrepreneurs and teachers to integrate digital media arts into the core curriculum of area high schools. It will work with teams of young people to enhance the online presence of local small businesses and nonprofits. And it will provide training and outreach to build a sustainable local market for digital services. As part of the federal grant, the Small Business Training and Development Center will be providing support for digital media entrepreneurs and small businesses.

"As more Detroiters create their own jobs - from computer-repair to soil-remediation to independent record labels - high-speed Internet access and digital media skills are essential. High school students have an important role to play as teachers and innovators in this growing information economy. Through this program we will expand our communities' capacity to transform Detroit from the ground up," said Lottie Spady, Associate Director of the East Michigan Environmental Action Council, a member of the DDJC. This program expands on the DDJC's ongoing deployment of affordable mesh wireless broadband networks and its series of local "Discovering Technology" neighborhood fairs. OTI has provided equipment, technical assistance, and research support for these efforts, in addition to its grantwriting and facilitation support for the BTOP proposals.

"Our staff have been working in Michigan for nearly a decade," said Sascha Meinrath, Director of the New America Foundation's Open Technology Initiative. "This wealth of experience has helped us to develop longstanding partnerships with key local organizations, culminating in our support for the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition's broadband stimulus project."

The federal grant is through Michigan State University, which has already received stimulus funding to expand computer centers in rural and urban communities throughout the state. As part of that program, the Digital Justice Coalition is supporting ten local computer centers in Detroit and Hamtramck. The grants are part of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP), created through the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 and administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.

The Open Technology supported a number of communities during the BTOP application process, creating a Broadband Stimulus Resource Library and a BTOP Community Response Team to support the development of collaborative, community-based proposals. In addition to its work on the Michigan grants, OTI worked with partners in Philadelphia to bring $17.2 million in BTOP funding to the city for public computer center and sustainable broadband adoption proposals. OTI's efforts were supported with grants from the Ford Foundation, the Media Democracy Fund, and the Knight Foundation.

"The Open Technology Initiative has already learned much from its collaboration with the Detroit Digital Justice Coalition," said Joshua Breitbart, Senior Field Analyst for the Open Technology Initiative. "We are excited to continue working with the DDJC to build Detroit's information economy and share this knowledge with policymakers in Washington, DC."

The Detroit Digital Justice Coalition is comprised of people and organizations in Detroit who believe that communication is a fundamental human right. We are securing that right through activities that are grounded in the digital justice principles of access, participation, common ownership, and healthy communities. Its members include: Allied Media Projects, East Michigan Environmental Action Council, Detroit Sierra Club's Environmental Justice Program, Michigan Welfare Rights Organization, The Luella Hannan Memorial Foundation, Real Media: a program of Urban Neighborhoods Initiative, and 5E Gallery.

Department of Commerce: Secretary Locke Announces Recovery Act Investments To Expand Broadband Internet Access And Spur Economic Growth: http://www.commerce.gov/news/press-releases/2010/09/27/secretary-locke-announces-recovery-act-investments-expand-broadband-i

Michigan State University: MSU receives $5.2 million for broadband expansion in Cities of Promise http://news.msu.edu/story/8354/

Detroit Digital Justice Coalition: Detroit Digital Justice Coalition Awarded $2 Million to Enhance Local Information Economy: http://alliedmedia.org/detroit-broadband-expansion

For media inquiries, please contact Kate Brown at 202-596-3365 or brown@newamerica.net.

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