Anchorage, AK—Wednesday, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTAI) announced its latest round of Tribal Broadband Connectivity Program (TBCP) awards. Leading the list of awardees, in terms of grant amount and consortium size, was the Alaska Federation of Natives, who secured a $35.1 million use and adoption TBCP award for its 74 consortium members.
“The size of this award reflects Alaska’s broadband needs,” said AFN President Julie Kitka. “This isn’t about AFN. It’s about the tribes, village corporations, and regional non-profit tribal organizations, including housing entities, who trusted us to explain the breadth and width of their digital divide to NTIA.”
“In the midst of a global health pandemic, AFN created the largest Native consortium to date to bring this tremendous award back to Alaska,” said AFN Co-Chair Ana Hoffman. “The TBCP is an incredibly complex and competitive program. AFN knew that an award of this magnitude could only be achieved by leveraging resources.”
AFN consortium member MTNT, Ltd., a village corporation representing four Interior communities, echoed this sentiment. “We explored the TBCP last year, and we wanted to apply, but we didn’t have the manpower or money to make it happen,” said MTNT, Ltd. CEO Michele Christiansen. “AFN’s invitation to join its broadband consortium was not just our only option – it was also our best option.”
“Today’s announcement illustrates how the Alaska Native community thinks and works,’ said AFN Co-Chair Joe Nelson. “We’re masters of inclusivity. The digital inclusion, workforce development, telehealth, and distance learning opportunities that AFN’s broadband consortium will bring about over the next year will serve all Alaskans, Native and non-Native alike, for decades to come.”
Governor Mike Dunleavy said, “This is precisely the ‘all-of-Alaska-approach’ that I had in mind when I funded AFN’s Navigator Program through a state CARES grant last year. It’s a statewide success story. I look forward to the Legislature building on this landmark moment and approving an additional round of funding through my FY23 operating budget to keep the Navigator Program going.”
The AFN Navigator Program was established to help the Native community recover from COVID-19 by securing federal resources and preventing and mitigating the spread of the virus. It is funded through September 2022 thanks to Chugach Alaska Corporation.
“Chugach was proud to provide gap funding for AFN’s Navigator Program when the state funds lapsed last year,” said Chugach Chair Sheri Buretta. “We fully support the mission. Congratulations to Julie and her team, as well as AFN’s broadband consortium, on this history-making announcement.”