As part of its efforts to close the homework gap, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has opened the second filing window for the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF).

The filing window runs from Sept. 28 to Oct. 13. Schools and libraries will have 15 days to apply for funding to purchase laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connections to serve unmet needs for off-premises use by students, school staff, and library patrons. Eligible schools and libraries can submit requests for funding to purchase eligible equipment and services received or delivered between July 1, 2021, and June 30, 2022.

“This is a second opportunity to help schools and libraries to meet the connectivity needs of students and library patrons for this school year,” FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. “Reliable and affordable access to broadband is a must for all Americans. It is especially critical for students to keep up with online homework assignments and remote learning so they can succeed in their education. This program provides an important down payment on closing the Homework Gap and connecting more kids to broadband.”

Last week the FCC announced that during the first round of funding it committed more than $1.2 billion in ECF funding to ensure that more than 3.6 million students have access to broadband and devices needed to engage in off-campus learning.

In a press release, the FCC said the funding will go to 3,040 schools, 260 libraries, and 24 consortia. The first round of funding will support purchasing 3,081,131 devices and 774,115 broadband connections, ultimately connecting more than 3.6 million students who would otherwise lack access to broadband, devices, or both. Residents in all 50 states and Guam, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia will benefit from the funding.

“This first round of funding in the Emergency Connectivity Fund will help thousands of schools and libraries across the country provide critical online resources to their students, staff, and library patrons,” Rosenworcel said. “This first wave of funding will provide more than 3 million connected devices for remote learning and will make a major dent in closing one of the cruelest parts of the digital divide. Closing the Homework Gap means that all students can be connected to their schools and teachers – and now the FCC has new tools to help do just that.”

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Kate Polit
Kate Polit
Kate Polit is MeriTalk SLG's Assistant Copy & Production Editor, covering Cybersecurity, Education, Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs