Closing the Digital Divide

The United States is taking bold steps to reinvigorate its economy through game-changing investments in high-tech research and manufacturing. This initiative will impact entrepreneurship in profound ways, creating opportunities for many people.

For more than 50 years, U. S. businesses outsourced manufacturing overseas rather than investing at home.  For example, engineers invented the semiconductor in the United States, but the nation produces about 10% of the world’s supply today.  The supply chain crisis caused by the COVID pandemic awakened our national consciousness to the importance of bringing  manufacturing home when ubiquitous foreign-made goods -such as cars, washing machines, and cell phones- were no longer available.  Simultaneously, the COVID lockdown exposed huge pockets of the U. S. that do not have access to modern tools nor technology to educate our young.  Urban, rural, rustbelt, and tribal communities united in their outcry over the educational plight of our children.

The United States is taking bold steps to reinvigorate the economy and it must build a new-era workforce to fuel it.  Funding national broadband through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of 2022 promises to close the. digital divide, which will transform the country much like the National Highway Act did in the Mid-’50s.  Simultaneously, the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act will revitalize domestic manufacturing that will put a “Made in America” sticker back on American products.  To achieve this heavy lift, it is imperative to execute the national education strategy set fort in the CHIPS Act, which states digital literacy for all is a primary goal.  Billions of dollars in CHIPS Act funding are available to educate and deploy a diverse, STEM-drive, digitally literate workforce to fill “the highly skilled jobs of the emerging industries built technologies of the future.”

To facilitate this goal, the CHIPS Act designates STEM Learning Ecosystems as Federal Entities because of their well-established state and regional platforms upon which CHIPS (National Science Foundation) grants can provide digital literacy resources and training to underrepresented youth in urban, rural, and tribal communities throughout the United States.  Because the CHIPS Act encourages businesses to lean in by providing STEM spaces and equipment, offering scholarships, promoting employee volunteerism, funding competitions, and creating internships and apprenticeships, Broadcom foundation is doing its part by focusing on grades 5 through 8 because learning code in middle school will help encourage girls, underrepresented and under-resourced student to stay engaged in STEM through high school and reverse the trend of declining interest in pursing mathematics, science, and engineering.

The CHIPS Act gives us a once-in-a-generation opportunity to rebuild and restore greatness as an economic superpower with an unparalleled national workforce, but all hands must be on deck.  (Editor:  It also provides new opportunities to fill needs and solve problems that arise in the implementation of the Act.)

Courtesy Paula Golden, Broadcom Foundation President                     March 2023

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