DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Central State University is receiving a grant of approximately $3 million to improve Internet access on campus.

The university is among the 12 colleges and universities given a total of $33.5 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“We want to remove as many obstacles as possible for students,” Dr. Morakinyo A.O. Kuti, interim dean of the John W. Garland College of Engineering, Science, Technology, and Agriculture at Central State, said.

The historically Black university will use the around $3 million federal grant to increase broadband across campus and in the community.

Kuti said because 80% of Central State Students come from low-income families, the university plans to buy 500 new laptops with mobile wi-fi hotspots for those who qualify.

“People confuse having a smartphone with having access to technology,” Kuti said. “If you have a smartphone, you can use apps, but if you really want to do education or learning, you need access to broadband. Because if you’re doing spreadsheets, you’re writing papers and you’re accessing the library, you cannot do that effectively on a smartphone.”

Along with internet access, Central State will use the funds to improve opportunities for online education by building out six classrooms into state-of-the art online learning facilities.

“Anybody on our campus can access the internet, and anybody in the world can get access to our education,” Kuti said. “So we’re going to increase our physical infrastructure on campus, and then that enables people, wherever they are in the world, they can come into our classroom and do online education.”

The university will also hire additional IT support staff to help with the upgrades.

Central State aims to implement the broadband changes within the next six months, and have laptops available for students in the fall semester.

The grant was provided through the Connecting Minority Communities program, which directs $268 million from the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 for expanding high-speed Internet access and connectivity to eligible Historically Black Colleges or Universities, Tribal Colleges or Universities and Minority-serving institutions.

The full list of institutions receiving money in this round of grant funding can be found here.