New proposal offers federal funding for AI literacy in higher ed

The 'Artificial Intelligence Literacy Act' aims to help colleges and universities teach students to use the rapidly advancing technology safely and ethically. 

Improving the nation’s overall AI literacy starts with developing interdisciplinary programs with nontraditional learners in mind and developing hands-on lab opportunities to facilitate a new wave of digital education. Funding for these and other higher education AI literacy initiatives is included in the bipartisan “Artificial Intelligence Literacy Act of 2023” recently drafted in Congress.

“The AI Literacy Act is an important example of Congress adapting to labor market shifts. As AI becomes more prevalent, it’s essential that workers have the opportunity to upskill and reskill to meet the economic moment and business needs. Digital skills, including working with AI, remain absolutely essential for job seekers, which is why funding for workers to access digital skills is crucial for workers and businesses,” said Caroline Treschitta of the National Skills Coalition.

The bill, which would amend the Digital Equity Act, defines AI literacy “as the skills associated with the ability to comprehend the basic principles, concept and applications of artificial intelligence, as well as the implications, limitations, and ethical considerations associated with artificial intelligence.”

A primary goal of the bill is to help institutions guide learners to use the rapidly advancing technology safely and ethically. Grants created by the proposal would go toward community colleges and four-year institutions. Concerning the latter, grants would help administrative leaders:

  • Develop virtual learning platforms for remote and individualized AI instruction.
  • Build labs that provide students with hands-on AI learning experiences.
  • Develop school pedagogy and programming for the benefit of K12 and community educators.

In the case of community colleges, grants would also be used to facilitate partnerships with non-profit educational organizations to create interdisciplinary literacy programs for nontraditional learners.

“Every administrator, teacher and student should know how to use AI and how AI works because when you understand the underlying fundamentals, you will be better able to use AI safely, effectively and responsibly,” Pat Yongpradit, chief academic officer of, said in a statement.

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Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick
Matt Zalaznick is a life-long journalist. Prior to writing for District Administration he worked in daily news all over the country, from the NYC suburbs to the Rocky Mountains, Silicon Valley and the U.S. Virgin Islands. He's also in a band.

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