Internet funding helps American students get tools they need to learn

Schools and libraries in New Jersey will receive $17,863,006 from the third and fourth rounds of funding from the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Emergency Connectivity Fund Program (ECF).

The ECF provides funding to help students, teachers, and library patrons get the tools they need to connect to the Internet from home – crucial resources as families continue to rely on virtual classrooms and high-speed Internet to learn.

Funding can be used to purchase modems, devices like laptops and tablets, broadband service, and more.

The $7.17 billion ECF program was authorized as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, which President Joe Biden signed into law in March.

New Jersey received $33.4 million from the first round of funding from the program in September plus another $20.9 million from the second round, which was announced in October.

Lisa McCormick, one of New Jersey’s leading progressive Democrats

ECF is intended to provide relief for millions of students who currently lack necessary Internet access or the devices they need to connect to classrooms.

“The Emergency Connectivity Fund is addressing an urgent need across the country by closing the homework gap,” said Lisa McCormick, one of New Jersey’s leading progressive Democrats. “This historic program is providing nine million students with the devices and internet connections they need to succeed.”

McCormick said that with more than $6 billion requested in early rounds, the fund could run dry before the end of the current school year.

“We cannot allow that to occur,” said McCormick, who noted that New Jersey has been slated to receive total committed funding in excess of $72 million.

“Far too many students lack the connections they need to get online and stay connected to their teachers. Thankfully, Congress gave us the tools through this program to make a real difference in our communities as we work to close the Homework Gap and help schools and libraries engage in online learning,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

The program to date has committed to supporting 6,954 schools, 613 libraries, and 80 consortia, which are approved to receive over 6.8 million connected devices and over 3.5 million broadband connections.

With these additional commitments, the FCC has met its goal of responding to 70 percent of all applications within 100 days of the closing of the first filing window.

Eligible equipment includes Wi-Fi hotspots, modems (including air cards), routers, devices that combine a modem and router, and connected devices (laptop and tablet computers).

Schools and libraries can also receive funding for commercially available broadband service that provides a fixed or mobile broadband connection for off-campus use by students, school staff, or library patrons.

In limited instances, a school or library that can demonstrate it has no available service options sufficient to support remote learning may seek funding for the construction of new networks to provide remote learning and the equipment needed for datacasting services.

Additional information on the Emergency Connectivity Fund program is available at: www.emergencyconnectivityfund.org.

The program is administered by the Universal Service Administrative Company, with oversight from and under rules unanimously adopted by the Federal Communications Commission.

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