The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) are joining forces to promote the use of $50 million CARES Act funding to help address the digital divide during COVID-19 pandemic. The agencies will attempt to make libraries and Tribal organizations aware of the funds, which can be used to increase broadband access in their communities.

The FCC E-Rate program also offers technology funding through the E-Rate program.

CARES Act Library Broadband
IMLS, the primary source of federal funding for the nation’s museums and libraries, was awarded $50 million in the CARES Act, with the funds to be used to enable these institutions, as well as organizations serving Tribal communities, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic. Among the ways the funding can be used is for work to expand digital network access, purchase Internet accessible devices and provide technical support services to their communities.

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The State Library Administrative Agencies (SLAAs) have distributed more than half of this funding in all states and territories based on population. States and territories may use these funds to expand broadband access and prioritize their efforts to high-need communities using data on poverty rates, unemployment

“Now more than ever, it is critical that all Americans have access to broadband to participate in online learning, get medical care via telehealth, search for jobs, and stay in touch with family and friends,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, in a prepared statement about the CARES Act library broadband funding. “And many Americans rely on their local library for this connectivity. So I’m pleased that Congress has provided funding to libraries and other entities to help them respond to the needs of their patrons during the coronavirus pandemic by bringing digital tools such as Wi-Fi and tablets into their communities. We look forward to working with IMLS to ensure that our nation’s libraries and Tribal organizations know about this opportunity and how it can help bridge the digital divide, especially in rural and low-income communities.”

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