The FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) has committed almost $84 million to eight states in an effort to neutralize the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students.
The funding will support about 140,000 students, primarily focusing on California, Georgia, Iowa, North Carolina, Minnesota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and South Carolina. The funding will support more than 180 schools, 20 libraries and five consortia.
The program is administered by libraries and school districts. The goal is to help the children keep up with homework and other off-campus learning.
The ECF, which is part of the American Rescue Act, eventually will grant $7.17 billion. The announcement brings the total awarded to date to more than $6.3 billion. So far, the program has supported about 10,500 schools, 1,000 libraries and 100 consortia. It has provided more than 12 million connected devices and more than 7 million broadband connections.
The awards were provided in three application windows. So far, approximately $4.1 billion has been made from Window 1, $833 million from Window 2 and $1.4 billion from Window 3. The most recent awards were drawn from all three application windows.
“For a successful education, every student needs after-school access to digital tools for doing homework and engaging with teachers,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a press release. “This latest round of funding brings us closer to the goal of closing the Homework Gap.”
The previous ECF awards were made in early October. They were aimed at areas hit by hurricanes Ian and Fiona. The fund provided more than $96 million to Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina and Puerto Rico. The grants were from all three application windows and aimed to support about 170 schools, 30 libraries and one consortium.
Examples provided by the FCC were grants to The Puerto Rico Department of Education for 225,000 mobile hotspots and to Pinellas County Schools in Clearwater, FL, area for almost 15,000 laptops.