$15 million headed to Kansas to fund free computers, public wifi

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Published: Mar. 8, 2023 at 1:21 PM CST
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Around $15 million is headed to Kansas to provide funds for free computers and public wifi as the first of 20 states in a federal program.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly announced on Wednesday, March 8, that the Sunflower State will be the first to receive $15 million in U.S. Department of Treasury Digital Connectivity Technology funds. The money will support equal access to high-speed internet, provide devices to underserved Kansans and expand digital skills training for communities.

“It’s not enough to expand high-speed internet across Kansas – we must also show Kansans of all ages and backgrounds how to make the internet a useful tool in their everyday lives,” Gov. Kelly said. “These funds will provide the devices and skills training to help every Kansan benefit from our investments to make high-speed internet available in their local communities.”

The director of the Capital Projects Fund also said that 20 additional states had also applied for funds.

“Kansas is just the first of many more to come, and it will be to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars,” Wender said.

Kelly noted that she was the first in the nation to recognize the need to design a program that offers free computers and public Wi-Fi to underserved Kansans with these funds. She said the program has been made available under the American Rescue Act Capital Projects Fund.

The Governor indicated that states have the choice to put all funds toward broadband infrastructure or to set aside some for programs that ensure broadband is more fully accessible to hard-to-reach communities.

“By supporting underserved communities and focusing exclusively on equal access to digital technologies with these funds, we will continue to address the specific challenges our communities face,” Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of Commerce David Toland said. “This is critical as we work toward Governor Kelly’s goal of getting every Kansan who wants access connected by 2030.”

Kelly said the Office of Broadband has conducted meetings throughout the state to gather feedback for a 5-year broadband access and digital equity plan. These sessions have also highlighted the need for laptops or computers, public wifi and digital training programs.

“We know infrastructure is not enough to bridge the digital divide in underserved areas,” Jade Piros de Carvalho, Director of the Kansas Office of Broadband, said. “Our office is excited to put these dollars to work to bring Kansans unique opportunities that provide needed equipment and skills training.”

For more information about the federal broadband effort, click HERE.