FCC commits $1.2B in emergency funds to connect students

Jessica Rosenworcel testifies before the House Energy and Commerce Committee's Communications and Technology Subcommittee in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill December 05, 2019 in Washington, DC. (Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images)

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The Federal Communications Commission on Friday announced it’s committed $1.2 billion in an initial funding wave to help students across the U.S. get access to the digital tools they need for learning.

The funding package will be used to ensure access to broadband and digital devices for students, school staff and library users in all 50 states and Guam, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia.

It’s intended to help close the gap between school-age students who have access to the connectivity needed to complete homework assignments and those who don’t. The Pew Research Center found in 2018 the gap in access disproportionately affected children from Black and Hispanic households.

The FCC has committed funding for 3,040 schools, 260 libraries and 24 consortia that applied for support from its $7.2 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund program. The ECF was authorized by Congress as part of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to support eligible schools and libraries in the purchase of laptops, tablet computers and additional connectivity for off-campus use.

The FCC estimates the initial $1.2 billion funding wave will provide at least 3 million devices and 774,000 broadband connections, reaching 3.6 million students.

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Broadband, Digital divide, FCC
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