Schools and libraries have until Oct. 13, 2021 to file for funds under the FCC’s $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). Congress authorized the ECF as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 passed on March 11, 2021.
The FCC says the ECF program can “help schools and libraries provide the tools and services their communities need for remote learning during the COVID-19 emergency period.”
What the Emergency Connectivity Fund Covers
The ECF is designed to provide relief to millions of students, school staff, and library patrons and can help close the Homework Gap for students who currently lack necessary Internet access or the devices to connect to classrooms.
For eligible schools and libraries, the ECF will cover the reasonable costs of the following purchases for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons:
Laptops and tablet computers (connected devices)
- Wi-Fi hotspots
- Modems (including air cards)
- Devices that combine a modem and router
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.
The FCC says that 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 ECF program.
Who is Eligible for Emergency Connectivity Funds?
The FCC says that schools, libraries, and consortia of schools and libraries (such as regional or statewide groups of schools or libraries that apply together) that are eligible for support under the FCC’s E-Rate Program may request and receive support through the ECF.
In addition, Tribal libraries eligible for support under the Library Services and Technology Act may also request and receive support through the ECF.
How Can Schools and Libraries Apply for ECF
The FCC received requests from across the nation for $5.137 billion to fund 9.1 million connected devices and 5.4 million broadband connections during the initial filing window which closed on Aug. 13, 2021.
The FCC said that “in view of the outstanding demand and the recent spike in coronavirus cases” a second window application filing window was opened on Sept. 28 which will run until Oct. 13, 2021.
“This is a second opportunity to help schools and libraries to meet the connectivity needs of students and library patrons for this school year,” Rosenworcel said. “We just committed more than $1.2 billion in funding from the first round of applications in this program, supporting more than 3.6 million connections. Reliable and affordable access to broadband is a must for all Americans. It is especially critical for students to keep up with online homework assignments and remote learning so they can succeed in their education. This program provides an important down payment on closing the Homework Gap and connecting more kids to broadband.”
During this new application filing window, eligible schools, libraries, and consortia of eligible schools and libraries will be able to submit requests for funding to purchase eligible equipment and services between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022.
The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is the administrator of the ECF Program and will review applications. Interested schools and libraries can find more information and apply at emergencyconnectivityfund.org.
Sign up to stay informed about the Emergency Connectivity Fund and receive invitations for future training sessions.
Review additional Frequently Asked Questions about the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program.
Schools and libraries in the greater Houston area can contact PS Lightwave today to find out how more about how they can fully leverage funding initiatives like ECF and E-Rate.