The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced $68 million in funding for its latest round of Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) awards on March 23, as well as its third application window for ECF funding, which it says will likely be the last round before the program’s funding is exhausted.
The latest round of funding includes $49 million in funding given to applicants from the first application window and $19 million from the second window, according to the press release. FCC said it plans to award “at least $1 billion” in ECF funding, and its third application window will run from April 28 to May 13.
“I’m excited to announce we are opening a new opportunity for schools and libraries to apply for funding in the upcoming school year through the Emergency Connectivity Fund,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in the release.
“We also are providing a 12th round of funding for schools and libraries for this school year, supporting another 200,000 students with devices and broadband connections,” she added. “This program has done so much already, and I look forward to seeing more students get the help they need for next year. Today is a great day for making progress in closing the Homework Gap.”
The $7.17 billion program was created by the American Rescue Plan in March 2021, and the latest round of funding will go to more than 140 schools and 25 libraries across the country and United States territories.
The ARP makes any entities eligible for the FCC’s E-Rate program eligible to apply for ECF funding, which can be used for laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, and off-campus broadband connectivity for students, teachers, or library patrons.
The next funding window will allow applicants to use funding for eligible purchases between July 1, 2022 and December 31, 2023.
“The 18-month funding window will allow applicants to reap the full benefit of existing Emergency Connectivity Fund support … to ensure students across the country have the necessary support to keep up with their education,” the release says.
FCC also published a public notice announcing the application window.