Thursday, 30 September 2021 12:58

$6 Million in COVID Relief Will Expand Broadband for Local Students; New Round of Funding Applications Are Open

WASHINGTON, DC — Nearly 20 schools across the Capital Region will be receiving just over $6 million to help expand and improve internet access for students and teachers, and applications for second round of funding has just opened, Congressman Paul Tonko announced this week. 

The funding is being administered by the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC’s) Emergency Connectivity Fund Program, established under the American Rescue Plan to help schools and libraries update services for remote learning during the pandemic. Tonko, D-Amsterdam, voted in support of the plan, and represents the 20th Congressional District, which includes all of Albany and Schenectady Counties and parts of Montgomery, Rensselaer and Saratoga Counties.

This first round of funding will deliver more than $1.2 billion to schools and libraries that serve more than 3.6 million students. 

“Throughout this COVID-19 crisis we have heard about the hardships millions of Americans are facing without access to broadband,” Congressman Tonko said, in a statement. “We have heard from students unable to connect to their classes and submit assignments, and from educators who have to drive to parking lots with public Wi-Fi and teach from their cars. For years I have pushed to expand and improve internet access to deliver this critical resource to underserved and unserved communities, and I was successful in my fight to include additional support for broadband as part of our American Rescue Plan legislation. I am delighted that this needed funding is being delivered to our Capital Region and beyond.”

The largest area recipient of the first round of funding is the Albany Central School District, which will receive just over $1.3 million. 

Applications for a second round of funding opened Sept. 28 and will close on Oct. 13. This will provide funding for eligible equipment and services received or delivered between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022. The funding is available for the purchase of laptops and tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connections for off-campus use by students, school staff, and library patrons in need, and is available to support off-campus learning, such as homework and virtual learning as schools continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

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