FCC announces $40 million in emergency funding for schools and libraries

FCC announces $40 million in emergency funding for schools and libraries.

To Date Over $6.5 Billion in Funding Committed in Ongoing Work to Close the Homework Gap.

WASHINGTON, January 19, 2023 – The Federal Communications Commission today announced it is committing over $40 million in a new funding round through the Emergency Connectivity Program, which provides digital services for students in communities across the country. Today’s funding commitments support applications from the third application window, benefiting approximately 100,000 students across the country, including students in Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Michigan, Washington, and Wisconsin.

“This program has equipped millions of students with the digital tools they need for after-school homework and connecting with teachers,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Today’s funding round is another step in our ongoing work to close the Homework Gap.”

The Emergency Connectivity Program, which launched in 2021, has provided schools and libraries three different “application windows” for schools and libraries to apply for support. Today’s announcement will fund applications from the third application window that will support over 275 schools, 15 libraries, and 5 consortia.

The funding can be used to support off-campus learning, such as nightly homework, to ensure
students across the country have the necessary support to keep up with their education. To date, the program has provided support to approximately 10,000 schools, 1,000 libraries, and 100 consortia, and providing over 12 million connected devices and over 8 million broadband connections. Of the approximately $6.5 billion in funding commitments approved to date, approximately $4.14 billion is supporting applications from Window 1; $833 million from Window 2; and $1.57 billion from Window 3.

More details about which schools and libraries have received funding commitments can be found at https://www.fcc.gov/emergency-connectivity-fund

The FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) is a $7.171 billion program that will help schools and libraries provide the tools and services their communities need for remote learning during the COVID-19 emergency period. ECF will help provide relief to millions of students, school staff, and library patrons and will help close the Homework Gap for students who currently lack necessary Internet access or the devices they need to connect to classrooms.

For eligible schools and libraries, the ECF Program will cover reasonable costs of laptop and tablet computers; Wi-Fi hotspots; modems; routers; and broadband connectivity purchases for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons.

Congress authorized the Emergency Connectivity Fund as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Who Is Eligible to Receive Funds Through the Emergency Connectivity Fund?

Schools, libraries, and consortia of schools and libraries (e.g., regional or statewide groups of schools or libraries that apply together) that are eligible for support under the FCC’s E-Rate Program and Tribal libraries eligible for support under the Library Services and Technology Act may request and receive support through the Emergency Connectivity Fund.

What Equipment and Services Are Covered?

Eligible equipment includes Wi-Fi hotspots, modems (including air cards), routers, devices that combine a modem and router, and connected devices (laptop and tablet computers). Schools and libraries can also receive funding for commercially available broadband service that provides a fixed or mobile broadband connection for off-campus use by students, school staff or library patrons. In limited instances, a school or library that can demonstrate it has no available service options sufficient to support remote learning may seek funding for the construction of new networks to provide remote learning and the equipment needed for datacasting services. Review the Eligible Services List for additional guidance on the equipment and services eligible for funding under the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program.

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