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Job One of the 2022 CHIPS and Science Act: Closing the Digital Divide

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Sponsored By:
A Broadcom Inc. volunteer at Renaissance Youth Center's "Code the Bronx"
chips act-digital divide
Sponsored By:
A Broadcom Inc. volunteer at Renaissance Youth Center's "Code the Bronx"

The United States is taking bold steps to reinvigorate its economy through game-changing investments in high-tech research and manufacturing.

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 readily available. Simultaneously, the COVID lockdown exposed huge pockets of the United States 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.

Much of our country is depending on an aging manufacturing and communications infrastructure developed decades ago during the American Century when other nations were digging out from World War II.

We are about to change all of that, because our greatness as an economic superpower — as well as our national security — depends on reestablishing technology primacy and preparing a modern workforce to drive it forward.

Bringing it back home

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 by building industries of the future in semiconductor, AI, and consumer manufacturing that will put a “Made in America” sticker back on consumer products.

To achieve this heavy lift, it is imperative to execute the national education strategy set forth 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-driven, digitally literate workforce to fill “the highly skilled jobs of the emerging industries built on technologies of the future.”

Creating opportunities

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. Broadcom Coding with Commitment offers a special coding award in foundation-sponsored science fairs, and is partnering with after-school Code Clubs in collaboration with the Raspberry Pi Foundation to offer free online coding instruction for students, teachers, and afterschool providers.

Broadcom Foundation is focusing on grades 5 through 8 because learning to code in middle school will help encourage girls, underrepresented and under-resourced students to stay engaged in STEM through high school and reverse the trend of declining interest in pursuing 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. Learn what your company, your nonprofit, your organization, your schools, and YOU can do to help bring digital literacy to young people in your community.  

To learn more, visit the National Science Foundation summary on the CHIPS Act 

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