FCC Announces $37 Million to Address the Homework Gap

The FCC has now allocated almost all of the Emergency Connectivity Fund.

FCC Announces $37 Million to Address the Homework Gap

WASHINGTON, October 4, 2023 – The Federal Communications Commission announced on Wednesday over $37 million additional Emergency Connectivity Fund allocations.

The fund, established with the American Rescue Plan Act as a response to the Coronavirus pandemic, is aimed at closing the ‘homework gap’ – the inability of students without broadband internet to do homework assignments. It can subsidize devices or broadband service for students to use outside of school.

Wednesday’s round of funding will go to 220 schools, 2 libraries, and 4 consortia of school districts and library systems across eight states. The commission is nearly done allocating funds under the program, with $7.03 billion of the total $7.17 billion now awarded.

In May, the FCC extended the deadline for some program recipients to spend ECF funds after school and library associations complained of having too little time to spend their awards. The commission declined to change the deadline for awards under the most recent application window, like the ones made Wednesday. Those awardees will still have until June 30, 2024 to spend their ECF money.

The fund is part of a broader effort by the FCC to address the homework gap. The commission will vote at its October 19 meeting on a proposal to expand the E-Rate program, an ongoing subsidy for broadband service and devices in schools.

That proposal has drawn support and pushback along party lines, with Democratic lawmakers backing the plan and Republicans opposing it. The September 25 confirmation of commissioner Anna Gomez gives Democrats a 3-2 majority at the FCC.

The last application window for the ECF closed on May 13, 2022.

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