The FCC has opened the third and presumably final filing window in the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), which provides devices and connectivity to schools and libraries for use by students, teachers and library patrons at home or other offsite locations.
The 15-day filing window will run from today until May 13. It enables eligible schools and libraries to request funding for the purchase of equipment and services between July 1 and December 31, 2023.
The program, which is funded at $7.17 billion, is administered by the schools and libraries. To this point, there have been 13 funding waves. More than $4.79 billion has been announced. The funds will support more than 11,000 schools, 900 libraries and 130 consortia. The funding will purchase laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers and broadband connections.
“As this school year comes to a close, I am pleased to announce that we are extending more help to connect schools and libraries for the next school year through the Emergency Connectivity Fund,” FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a press release about the Emergency Connectivity Fund window opening.
“This program has made significant progress in helping to close the Homework Gap, supporting more than 12.5 million students since it started in June 2021, and providing over 10 million connected devices and 5 million connections to thousands of schools and libraries.”
The ECF was part of the American Rescue Plan Act. The goal was to help communities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The 13th wave of the ECF was announced last week. It will provide $37 million in funding to more than 170 schools, 30 libraries, and four consortia in Alaska, Indiana, Mississippi, New Mexico, Pennsylvania and Texas.
A report by the American Library Association in March found that library-based initiatives, some of which were funded through the ECF, were effective in helping communities deal with the pandemic.