Coppin State leads $3.9M pilot to expand internet access, tech skills across West Baltimore

College students attending Coppin State University may be recruited by the historically Black college in West Baltimore to teach individuals in low-income neighborhoods how to thrive in a digital world.

Federal officials – who earmarked $3.9 million for Coppin State – say it’s another step towards closing the digital divide.

“This community really does need the work, the attention, the love, the dollars and the support of everybody,” said Democrat Kweisi Mfume, U.S. Rep. for Maryland’s 7th congressional district which includes parts of Baltimore City, during a press conference on Coppin State’s campus on Monday.

West Baltimore residents living in the following neighborhoods may be eligible to participate in the program known as ConnectEagle Nation: Mondawmin, Coppin Heights, Sandtown/Winchester, and Penn North.

Coppin State University’s pilot program seeks to offer residents an affordable way to get online and apply for jobs, pay their taxes or continue their education. ConnectEagle Nation students will become digital navigators providing outreach, equipment and training.

The Enoch Pratt Free Library will train digital navigators. University officials say these efforts may foster more digital inclusion and equity in the community.

“Socioeconomic status should not determine access, or opportunities for individuals, in Baltimore or anywhere else,” said Anthony L. Jenkins, president of Coppin State University.

The U.S. Department of Commerce earmarked a total of $33 million in grants spread across 12 minority-serving schools nationwide.