The USDA announced today that the application window for the next phase of the ReConnect rural broadband funding program has been extended to March 31st. It was originally scheduled to close March 16th.
USDA did not offer reasons for the extension, other than to say it will provide additional time for more organizations to apply.
“By extending the ReConnect Program application deadline, we are helping even more qualified organizations access the essential funding to make high-speed broadband connectivity a reality for rural communities across America,” USDA Deputy Under Secretary for Rural Development Bette Brand said in a prepared statement.
The second phase of the program will offer $550 million in the form of grants and loans for the expansion of rural broadband. Applicants can apply for up to $200 million for grants, up to $200 million for 50/50 grant/loan combinations, and up to $200 million for low-interest loans.
Phase I of the program is winding down, having already awarded $621 million (as of today) to 70 projects in 31 states and territories. The most recent announced awards totaled $47 million for projects in Virginia and Texas. USDA received 146 applications between May 31, 2019, and July 12, 2019, requesting $1.4 billion for phase I of the program.
ReConnect Application Rules
Eligible entities to receive funding from for phase II include:
- States, local governments, or any agency, subdivision, instrumentality, or political subdivision thereof;
- A territory or possession of the United States;
- An Indian tribe (as defined in section 4 of the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act (25 U.S.C. 450b));
- Non-profit entities;
- For-profit corporations;
- Limited liability companies; and
- Cooperative or mutual organizations
Interested parties can submit a ReConnect application here.