Saint Paul Harbor in the Pribilof Islands. The Native community will soon receive improved broadband service thanks to USDA funding support. Photo courtesy of Scott Schuette and used with permission of TDX.
The significance of a recently awarded USDA Community Connect Broadband grant to the predominantly Native town of Saint Paul, Alaska, can’t really be appreciated until you know about this isolated community on one of the Pribilof Islands in the middle of the Bering Sea. It is not served by the Alaska Marine Highway ferry system and the major shipping routes are 250 miles to the south. The island is too far from the closest urban centers (more than 700 miles) to reach by light aircraft. No commercial jet service is available. Most supplies arrive by charter or flying service while freight arrives by barge, seasonally when the Bering Sea is ice-free. Winter travel in the Bering Sea can be extreme with violent seas and high winds. Air travel throughout the remaining months is often disrupted by heavy fog and ice fog. To say this is a remote area is an understatement.
The Community Connect project is desperately needed on Saint Paul Island. Available 2010 Census statistics show the community in distress. In 1990 the population was 763; by 2010 it was 479. This is at a time when Alaska’s less remote non-Native rural population is growing. With few available natural resources on this treeless island, Internet Connectivity is the core foundation for economic and demographic turn around. Read more »
Secretary Duncan, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and their agencies are working together to support community colleges as they provide postsecondary education and career training in rural areas.
Cross posted from the Department of Education blog:
It’s no secret that community colleges are leading the way to achieving the President’s goal for the United States to once again have the highest college attainment rate in the world by 2020. Community colleges are hubs for career-training, re-training, adult education and for recent high school graduates seeking a pathway into the careers of their choice. Read more »
A small rural community half way between Kansas City and Springfield is the Village of Brownington, possibly the best kept secret of Henry County. Nestled comfortably along the Harry S. Truman Lake, the Village consists of 119 residents with 68 housing units covering a land area of only 0.15 sq. miles. Their numbers may be small, but their courage and determination to revive their community is remarkable.
To the delight of the residents, the Village was recently awarded a grant for access to broadband service and the construction of a Community Center. The broadband service is a result of a program administered by USDA Rural Development. The program known as “Community Connect” provides grants to eligible applicants to establish broadband service in rural communities that are not currently served. Read more »
During his State of the Union address earlier this week, President Obama outlined a vision for the future that calls on America to “Out innovate, out educate, and out build the rest of the world.” A crucial contributor to this effort, as the President recognized, is rural broadband. USDA is funding the deployment of broadband systems across the country, and we want to help your community as well. Read more »
One of the best things about living in Alaska and working for USDA is seeing how our programs improve things for the folks who call this region home. Other than electricity and running water, nothing improves the quality of life more than broadband. Read more »