The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it committed more than $1.2 billion in funding to ensure that more than 3.6 million students have access to broadband and devices needed to engage in off-campus learning.
In a press release, the FCC said the funding from the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) Program will go to 3,040 schools, 260 libraries, and 24 consortia. This first round of funding will support purchasing 3,081,131 devices and 774,115 broadband connections, ultimately connecting more than 3.6 million students who would otherwise lack access to broadband, devices, or both. Residents in all 50 states and Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia will benefit from the funding.
“This first round of funding in the Emergency Connectivity Fund will help thousands of schools and libraries across the country provide critical online resources to their students, staff, and library patrons,” said Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “This first wave of funding will provide more than 3 million connected devices for remote learning and will make a major dent in closing one of the cruelest parts of the digital divide. Closing the Homework Gap means that all students can be connected to their schools and teachers – and now the FCC has new tools to help do just that.”
A second application filing window will open on September 28 and close on October 13, and will provide funding for eligible equipment and services received or delivered between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022. The funding is available for the purchase of laptops and tablets, WiFi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connections for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons.