With D.C. lagging, some broadband stimulus to stay local

A handful of broadband cash doled out by the White House this week will stay local, helping Washington, D.C., improve on its below-par broadband statistics. 

About $4.2 million in broadband stimulus funds will stay in Washington after the latest round of funding. The White House announced $1.8 billion dollars in broadband grants and loans last week, which will send money out to 38 states. 

Washington will use its funds to target a group of neighborhoods where city planners say the broadband adoption rate is under 40 percent. That lags considerably behind the national average: About 65 percent of American adults have a home broadband connection. 

The Recovery Act has provided Washington with other awards for broadband, as well, handed out in previous funding rounds. The city was awarded $18 million for broadband infrastructure and $1.5 million for public computer centers. 

All the funds have targeted Wards 5, 7 and 8, which include such neighborhoods as Trinidad and Anacostia, where city planners say the unemployment rate is above the national average. 

The most recent award will fund a project called DC Broadband Education, Training and Adoption (DC-BETA), run through the city government. 

DC-BETA is designed to partner with local community organizations that can help implement outreach and education programs. It will also fund digital literacy courses, job training and new computers in community centers.

City planners say the project will train as many as 6,800 residents through about 108,000 hours of teacher-led training for D.C.’s economically vulnerable residents. 

DC-BETA will "provide a foundation for economic growth and job creation for decades to come," according to a White House statement.