The Emergency Connectivity Fund is a $7.17 billion program funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to help schools and libraries support remote learning. The Program provides funding to schools and libraries for the reasonable costs of eligible equipment and services that can be provided to students, teachers, and library patrons who lack connected devices, such as laptop or tablet computers, and/or lack broadband access during the pandemic.
Who Is Eligible to Receive Funds Through the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program?
- Schools, libraries, and consortia of schools and libraries that are eligible for support under the FCC’s E-Rate program, are eligible to request and receive support through the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program.
- In addition, the Order clarifies that Tribal libraries, which are eligible for support under the Library Services and Technology Act, are also eligible for the Emergency Connectivity Fund.
- Schools and libraries eligible for the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program do not need to be current E-Rate participants. Eligible entities that have not applied for E-Rate support should be prepared to demonstrate eligibility as a school or library under the Program rules during USAC’s application review.
What Equipment and Services Are Covered by the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program?
- The following types of equipment purchased for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons who would otherwise lack sufficient connectivity to engage in remote learning are eligible for support:
- Laptop and tablet computers
- Wi-Fi hotspots
- Modems (including air cards)
- Devices that combine a modem and router.
- Schools and libraries can also receive funding for commercially available broadband internet service that provides a fixed or mobile broadband connection for off-campus use by students, school staff, or library patrons who would otherwise lack access to connectivity sufficient to engage in remote learning.
- In limited circumstances where a school or library can demonstrate that there are no available service options sufficient to support remote learning for its students, school staff, or library patrons, the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program may support the construction of new networks and the equipment needed for datacasting services.
- Review the Eligible Services List for additional guidance on the equipment and services eligible for funding under the Emergency Connectivity Fund Program.
How Can Schools or Libraries Apply?
- A second ECF application filing window will open on September 28, 2021 and close on October 13, 2021. During this second filing window, eligible schools, libraries, and consortia of eligible schools and libraries can submit requests for funding to purchase eligible equipment and services between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022.
- The Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) is the administrator of the ECF Program and will review applications.
- Interested schools and libraries can find more information and apply at emergencyconnectivityfund.org
- The initial ECF Program application filing window opened on June 29 and closed on August 13.