Markey and Meng fought for more than $7 billion in the American Rescue Plan to connect students to the internet 

Washington (June 29, 2021) – Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Representative Grace Meng (NY-06) released the following statement today after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched the Emergency Connectivity Fund created by the American Rescue Plan and opened the application window for schools and libraries to apply for the more than $7 billion in E-Rate distance learning funding provided by this law.

Senator Markey and Rep. Meng introduced and championed the legislation in the Senate and House, respectively, to create this program in response to the coronavirus pandemic, which will now allow elementary and secondary schools and libraries -- including tribal schools and libraries -- to provide Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and internet-enabled devices, including internet service through such equipment, to students, staff, and patrons.

“Today’s announcement by the FCC means that we can begin to deploy this historic $7 billion investment in our nation’s children,” said the lawmakers. “Schools and libraries can now begin to utilize the Emergency Connectivity Fund to address the ‘homework gap’ experienced by 12 to 17 million students who – more than a year into the coronavirus pandemic – still do not have internet access at home. By providing connectivity and devices to our most vulnerable children, this essential program will ensure all students have the tools they need to succeed. We can prevent the homework gap from becoming an even more damaging opportunity gap during this ongoing emergency, and this program will lay the foundation for a permanent solution to connect all K-12 students at home across the United States. We thank Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel for her tireless work to implement this program, and we look forward to working together to build on this success.”

Since the E-Rate began more than two decades ago, more than $54 billion, including approximately $770 million in Massachusetts, has been invested nationwide to provide internet access for schools and libraries. Senator Markey is the author of the original E-Rate program, which was created as a part of the 1996 Telecommunications Act to connect schools and libraries to the internet. The new Emergency Connectivity Fund is a natural extension of the E-Rate program to connect students learning at home.