Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Kentucky to Receive $1.3 million Stimulus Funds to Increase Computer Access at Public Libraries
FRANKFORT, Ky.– Gov. Steve Beshear today announced the award of more than $1.3 million as part of the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP) funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to the Kentucky Department for Libraries and Archives (KDLA). The funding will be used to expand the number of public computer workstations that are available to Kentuckians at their local public libraries and to greatly increase access to training courses for residents.
“This funding will help Kentuckians who do not have access to computers and broadband service to use 21st century technology to access training, jobs and economic opportunities. Our local public libraries have become an important community access point for people to search for jobs, write resumes and learn computer skills. These funds will provide a direct link to help for people in areas with high poverty, disability and unemployment levels,” Gov. Beshear said.
The BTOP grant from the federal Department of Commerce and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will fund about 520 new public computer workstations, enhance 300 additional workstations and upgrade 60 public libraries in Kentucky. The libraries that will receive upgrades have not yet been determined.
Wayne Onkst, Kentucky’s state librarian and commissioner of KDLA, said, “This grant will enable public libraries in 60 counties to assist their communities in the economic recovery and provide lasting benefits in education and economic development. We are proud to be working with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and partners across Kentucky to bring technology and training to so many Kentuckians at their public libraries.”
Kentucky participated in the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation’s Opportunity Online broadband grant program and received technical and consulting assistance to develop a competitive funding proposal for BTOP. Kentucky will receive federally required matching funds from the Gates Foundation to support its BTOP-funded project, as well as support from the foundation to help secure additional federal E-rate funding to sustain broadband connection costs in the future.
In addition to the grant received by KDLA, Boat People SOS Inc. received an NTIA award of approximately $392,000 with more than $200,000 in matching contributions to allow Boat People SOS to provide broadband access, training, education and support for the underserved Vietnamese immigrants in a community in south Louisville and surrounding areas of Jefferson County.
Including the projects announced this week, Kentucky has received more than $393 million in grants and loans from the NTIA and the USDA Rural Utility Service (RUS) Broadband Initiatives Programs (BIP).