Sen. Kelly, Sinema Announce $2.9 Million for Diné College’s Connect Navajo Project

Council Delegate Kee Allen Begay, Jr. and Arizona Senator Mark Kelly tour a site for future cell tower development.

TSAILE, AZ – Arizona Senators Mark Kelly and Kyrsten Sinema today announced $2,925,627 for Diné College’s Connect Navajo Project – an initiative to improve educational and economic opportunity on the Navajo Nation by improving internet access, providing more hardware, and investing in information technology (IT) personnel.

“Access to computers and reliable internet is crucial to students’ success in the classroom,” said Senator Kelly. “This grant will ensure Diné College students have access to new laptops, mobile hotspots, printing kiosks, as well as professional development training. We will continue working to bridge the digital divide for the next generation of leaders and innovators on the Navajo Nation.

“Today’s critical funding will make a big difference for students on the Navajo Nation – expanding internet access, improving retention rate, and moving one step closer to closing the digital divide,” said Senator Sinema. “I’m proud to help secure this necessary investment for Diné College.”

The funding comes from the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program – a grant program reserved for historically black colleges and universities, tribal colleges and universities, and minority-serving institutions to purchase broadband internet access service and eligible equipment or to hire and train IT staff. The program is funded through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021 supported by Kelly and Sinema.

“The Navajo Nation commends our Arizona Senators for being outspoken advocates for our Native American-serving colleges and universities,” said Navajo Nation Speaker Seth Damon. “Diné College remains the first tribal college in the country and the institution continues to inspire Navajo students seeking a higher education. The Connect Navajo project will provide high speed broadband internet to our students who need it most.”

“Access to reliable internet and state of the art computers is crucial to the success of our Navajo students in the classroom,” said Kee Allen Begay Jr., Navajo Nation Council Delegate. “This grant ensures Diné College is prepared during this ongoing pandemic for online classes and access to the worldwide web for the most rural areas of the Navajo Nation.”

Starting this fall semester, in an effort to make college more accessible and increase student success, Diné College will offer 100 percent grants to all students to fully cover tuition, books, meals, and rent at its residential halls. 

Thanks to the nearly $3 million grant, Diné College’s Connect Navajo project will expand and improve internet access for students and for the Navajo Nation. The project will provide new technology – including laptops and mobile hotspots – to ensure online participation as well as information technology training for members of the Navajo Nation to learn technical skills.

The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act – bipartisan legislation led by Sinema and shaped by Kelly – invests $65 billion to deploy high-speed broadband, expand broadband internet access, and help families afford broadband service, including dedicated funding for connectivity on tribal lands.