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Grant to provide better internet, new technology

A new round of grants from the federal government is designed for projects that improve internet connectivity and technology for tribes. (iStock)

The Seminole Tribe has been awarded a $500,000 federal grant to assist with an ongoing goal to expand high-speed internet access and improve technology across the reservations. The multiyear initiative is being led by the tribe’s Information Technology Department.

The tribe was one of 10 tribes that benefitted from the Department of Commerce’s latest round of $5 million in grants (announced in May) as part of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s tribal broadband connectivity program. The grant round is included in nearly $2 billion that has been awarded to 157 tribes through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law so far.

Laurie Gagner, the tribe’s IT director, said the $500,000 awarded to the tribe will first provide equipment and training for the Education Department.

“While this particular grant will primarily help the Education Department, it will also provide training services and equipment for the seniors and community at large,” she said. “The schools have a more immediate need to get set up for the new school year, so there is an urgency there, however this grant was awarded to benefit the whole tribe.”

Thommy Doud, the tribalwide preschool director, was involved in the grant application process to acquire classroom smart boards, computers and training. A smart board is an interactive tool for teachers and students that allows users to edit and annotate directly on a screen using a stylus or a finger.

“Participation in this grant will afford the Seminole Tribe of Florida an opportunity to link tradition and culture with technology as we continue our mission to provide our youngest tribal students with the knowledge and tools needed to achieve their life goals,” Doud said in an email to the Tribune. 

Meanwhile, Gagner said the tribe has also applied for two other major grants to help pay for monopole towers, which are designed to improve cellular and wireless connectivity across the reservations.

“The tribe is in the first phase of building tribally owned monopole towers,” Gagner said. “Construction is planned to begin this year, and then work will follow to install an intra-reservation high-speed fiber network that will provide connectivity to tribal buildings and member homes.”

The tribal broadband connectivity program is a nearly $3 billion grant program that is part of the Biden administration’s “Internet for All Initiative,” through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law ($2 billion) and the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 ($980 million). The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law designates $65 billion in funding for connectivity projects across the country.

“There is a lot of federal funding available for these types of projects, so we are trying for them all, as every bit helps,” Gagner said. “The Tribal Council has been very supportive of [these projects] and we are all looking forward to better services on the reservations.”

Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at