Girls at home attending school.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is providing more than $450,000 in a new funding round through the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) program , which is administered by schools and libraries and pays for devices and connectivity for students to use at home or in other off-campus locations.

The goal is to help ensure students across the country have the necessary support to keep up with nightly homework, to support summer online learning programs and, in general, to supplement their education. 

The most recent funding will support applications from the third application window, and will connect about 1,000 students.

The Emergency Connectivity Fund program, which started in 2021, has provided schools and libraries three different “application windows” to apply for support. Approximately $7.09 billion in funding commitments have been approved to date.

Approximately $4.14 billion is supporting applications from Window 1; $834 million from Window 2; and $2.12 billion from Window 3.  To date, the funding has provided support to approximately 18 million students, 11,500 schools, 1,070 libraries, and 130 consortia, and provided nearly 13.5 million connected devices and over 8 million broadband connections.

The FCC refers to the shortage of broadband connectivity for school students as the “Homework Gap.”

“The Homework Gap remains a serious challenge for today’s students and families. This funding is a vital investment that helps ensure everyone who counts on schools and libraries can get the connections they need to thrive in the digital age,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a prepared statement about the FCC ECF program.

As a long-term solution to the Homework Gap, the FCC recently announced a new initiative “Learn Without Limits” to modernize the E-Rate program to allow for Wi-Fi on school buses and for permanent support to loan out Wi-Fi hotspots. 

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