The American Samoa Community College (ASCC) is announcing has been awarded a significant grant for its A’oa’oga Aso Nei Initiative. Aʻoaʻoga Aso Nei is a Samoan phrase that translates to “Education of Today,” and the initiative is designed to bring major new improvements to the campus internet service, technology loaning capabilities, and technical curriculum. Awarded by the National Telecommunications and Information Agency, the grant is part of the Connecting Minority Communities pilot program offered to institutions of higher education nationwide.
Commenting on the nearly $3 million-dollar award, ASCC President Dr. Rosevonne Pato said, “This program fits into an ongoing string of successes we are having as we fulfill our promise to modernize the campus and curriculum of ASCC, and push to make a positive impact on the future of American Samoa’s learners as they join the global economy from here at home. We expect to keep building on this success with future opportunities to extend partnerships with the islands’ K-12 educational institutions, local businesses, and government agencies, with the aim of contributing to the economic development of the Territory and achieving digital inclusion for all our residents.” President Pato also observed that ASCC won the grant despite a competitive field that saw more than four times the available amount of $268 million requested by applicants.
The award will enable ASCC to make improvements including:
● Gigabit internet access for the entire period of the award (through July, 2025)
● Network improvements for all buildings, giving them access to the upgraded internet capabilities
● Up to 1100 loaner laptops for students, as well as a facility to manage device lending
● Up to 300 MiFi devices and subscriptions for students who do not have access to the internet from home
● Upgraded Information Technology courses with space for eighty or more students.
● Remote certificate courses for up to twenty advanced students, to be made available through partnership with a four-year university
According to Grace Tulafono-Asi, Chief Information Officer of ASCC and Project Leader for the initiative, one exciting new feature of the project will be the inclusion of public access to high-speed internet service. “We have been modernizing the campus networks for some time now, but this grant will give us enough internet bandwidth and the facilities we would need to actually serve members of our community who need a place to connect and work or study from time to time. We’re evaluating ways that we can make that work for our students and our community as well, and I expect we’ll make additional announcements by this summer.” Tulafono-Asi indicated that the new equipment and classes will make their first appearance during the fall 2023 semester.
Peter Dresslar, an advisor from the non-profit organization Pacific Broadband and Digital Equity, collaborated with ASCC leadership on the grant proposal, and is currently working to organize plans for the project to kick-off in the fall. According to Dresslar, “The thing that excited me most about A’oa’oga Aso Nei and the Connecting Minority Communities grant was the opportunity to connect this once-in-a-generation federal resource with the outstanding ASCC community. I felt completely confident that we could build a project that was attractive for our federal partners and meaningful for the community, and a year later, here we are with tremendous excitement for what will come in the fall.” The Connecting Minority Communities grant was also prepared with assistance from the American Samoa Department of Commerce and its Broadband Coordination, Opportunities, Redevelopment and Deployment (BCORD) Office, under the supervision of Assistant Director Michael McDonald.
For more information on opportunities offered at ASCC, visit the College’s website at www.amsamoa.edu