The FCC has committed almost $68 million to the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). The funding, which comes from two funding rounds and will support more than 100,000 students, including those in California, Florida, North Carolina, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.
The ECF aims to help students and others use the internet off campus activities, particularly for doing homework. It was created by the American Rescue Plan Act to help blunt the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is administered by schools and libraries.
This ECF is heading towards the home stretch. The latest commitment brings the total thus far to more than $5.7 billion of the eventual total of $7.17 billion that will be committed. The new commitments include $24 million from the first and second application windows to support one school, three libraries and one consortium and almost $44 million from the third application window to support more than 200 schools, seven libraries and one consortium.
Up to this point, the ECF has committed support to about 10,000 schools, 900 libraries and 100 consortia, the FCC reports. It has supported almost 12 million connected devices and more than 7 million broadband connections. To date, about $4.1 billion has been committed from Window 1, $830 million from Window 2 and $774 million from Window 3.
“As we inch closer to the start of another school year, the Homework Gap remains a real concern for far too many students who lack internet access after the school day ends,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a press release about the Emergency Connectivity funding. “We’re working hard to fix this and support students as they prepare to return to the classroom in the coming weeks and this latest round of funding will help us do just that.”
In mid-July, the ECF awarded more than $266 million to support broadband for more than 1 million students in Delaware, Maryland, Mississippi, New Mexico, New York and Oregon.