Federal broadband grant opportunities

CML Newsletter
July 30, 2021

In 2020 and 2021, several pieces of federal legislation were passed to improve broadband infrastructure nationwide. Below are some grant opportunities that are available for your communities. The Emergency Broadband Benefit (EBB) Program (bit.ly/3x65i0u) is a $3.2 billion program that provides a temporary discount on monthly broadband bills for qualifying low-income households. If a household in your municipality is eligible, they can receive:
• Up to a $50/month discount on your broadband service and associated equipment rentals;
• up to a $75/month discount if your household is on qualifying Tribal lands;
• a one-time discount of up to $100 for a laptop, tablet, or desktop computer (with a co-payment of more than $10 but less than $50).

The EBB program has awarded benefits to about one in 12 eligible households, and in Colorado alone only 9% of eligible households have applied. We encourage you to let residents in your communities know about this excellent opportunity.

For more information on how households in your city or town can apply, visit the program website at bit.ly/3x65i0u.

The Emergency Connectivity Fund (bit.ly/3rAT9iR) is a 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 can 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.

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 (bit.ly/3i7RdLT) and Tribal libraries eligible for support under the Library Services and Technology Act may request and receive support through the Emergency Connectivity Fund.

Review the eligible services list at bit.ly/3eXIZny for additional guidance on the equipment and services eligible for funding under the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program. The initial ECF Program application filing window will close on August 13. During the application filing window, eligible schools, libraries, and consortia of eligible schools and libraries can submit requests for funding to purchase eligible equipment and services between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022. We encourage you to coordinate with your school districts and libraries to take advantage of this program!

If you have any questions about the programs, please contact Meghan MacKillop, CML legislative and policy advocate, at mmackillop@cml.org.