The FCC’s Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) is providing more than $96 million to support off-campus broadband activities across the country. Almost $53 million of that funding will be aimed at areas impacted by hurricanes Ian and Fiona.
The hurricane relief element of the announcement will focus on Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Puerto Rico. Two examples: The Puerto Rico Department of Education will receive support for 225,000 mobile hotspots, and Pinellas County Schools, which is in the Clearwater, FL, area, will receive support for almost 15,000 laptops.
The new grants are from all three application windows and will support about 170 schools, 30 libraries and one consortium.
“We need to make sure all kids have digital tools for connecting with school, but it’s especially important for students living in those areas damaged by the recent hurricanes,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a press release. “This program will help those students by funding hot spots, tablets, and broadband services, building on our ongoing work to close the Homework Gap.”
The ECF was created by the American Rescue Plan. Its mandate is to provide grants to ease off-campus activities, such as homework, which became more challenging due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is administered by libraries and school districts.
The ECF is entering the final stretch. It has committed more than $6 billion of the $7.17 billion it was allocated. The ECF has approved grants supporting approximately 10,000 schools, 900 libraries, and 100 consortia. It has provided approximately 12 million connected devices and 7 million broadband connections.
Approximately $4.1 billion of the total came from Window 1 applications, $833 million from Window 2 applications, and $1 billion from Window 3 applications.
In early September, the FCC announced ECF grants that will support about 170,000 students in Alaska, Iowa, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Washington, and the District of Columbia. Those awards, all from the third application window, will provide assistance to more than 300 schools, 25 libraries, and two consortia.