Hennepin Technical College Wins Grant to Bridge Technology Gap
Hennepin Technical College (HTC) received a new federal grant that will help low-income students with technology barriers.
Under the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund, the U.S. Department of Education awarded HTC $210,000.
HTC used the funds to buy 200 laptops. The college will also create 50 new hotspots on campus for fast and secure online connections.
“Many of our students meet the criteria that was identified in the grant of being an underrepresented students,” said Mark Johnson, the academic dean. “That means first generation, low-income, could be a student with a disability.”
Johnson said about 62% of HTC students are from underrepresented communities. He added that student demand for laptops continue to increase due to COVID-19 because of additional financial hardships and disruptions.
The college will also continue to find new funding and resources to help students continue their education in a distance learning environment, Johnson said.
Students including Alyssa Austin admit it’s been a tough semester because most classes shifted to distance learning due to the pandemic.
“I’m in a household where we’re sharing 3 laptops between 5 people. So it’s really hard to get school work done,” said Austin. “Anytime I get on the computer I have to do work weeks ahead of time so I don’t get behind in case those those weeks I don’t have a computer.”
Prior to COVID-19, HTC had a laptop loan program through the college library, but laptops disappeared quickly.
A recent survey reports 20% of HTC students struggle with technology barriers such as lack of a computer or no high-speed internet.
To request a free laptop, students can ask their advisor for help. Laptops will be distributed in January. Students can keep the technology for as long as they need, without a fee.