The North Carolina Central University School of Law will receive a grant of nearly $2 million in federal stimulus funds to upgrade broadband service while expanding access to its legal education programs, Law School Dean Raymond C. Pierce announced Friday.
The $1.9 million will underwrite a project that uses videoconferencing to provide low-income residents greater access to legal services. It will extend classes to 22 legal assistance sites across North Carolina and to four other state universities: Elizabeth City State University, Winston-Salem State University, North Carolina A&T State University and Fayetteville State University. The project also includes legal writing seminars for undergraduates to better prepare them for law school and increase minority representation in the legal profession.
“I am proud of the corporate and academic team that we assembled and all of the hard work it took to compete for this grant,” said Greg Clinton, director of information technology for the law school. “We are humbled by the true benefits of this program — providing legal education and services to individuals who would not otherwise have access.”
NCCU’s Law School was one of two programs to receive grants on Thursday. The other is the Puget Sound Center Foundation for Teaching, Learning and Technology, which will receive $4.1 million to expand or upgrade 39 public computer centers in Washington State.
In a press release, U.S. Sen. Kay R. Hagan (D-NC) applauded the project, saying the grant will “help NCCU bridge the technological divide and bring legal education and services to North Carolina students and residents.”
In all, the U.S. Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service are administering a nearly $7 billion Recovery Act initiative to expand access to broadband services.
“These Recovery Act investments illustrate how broadband technology can not only expand economic and educational opportunities, but can also make the justice system more accessible to the public,” said NTIA Administrator Lawrence E. Strickling.