Massachusetts will receive $14.8 million in the first round of ECF funding
VIDEO: Vice President Harris announces E-Rate funding on The View this morning
Washington (September 24, 2021) – Vice President Kamala Harris today announced the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has committed over $1.2 billion in the first funding wave of the Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF), a program Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Representative Grace Meng (NY-06) fought to pass in the American Rescue Plan this March. This fund provides $7.17 billion to 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. This first round of ECF funding will go to more than 3,000 schools and libraries across the country, helping to connect more than 3.6 million students to the internet. Massachusetts schools and libraries will receive $14.8 million in the first round of the program.
In May 2020, Senators Markey and Van Hollen, along with Rep. Meng, introduced the Emergency Educational Connections Act, legislation aimed at ensuring all K-12 students have adequate home internet connectivity and devices. In March 2021, this bill became law, along with more than $7 billion in funding for home connectivity as part of in the American Rescue Plan.
“The Emergency Connectivity Fund is addressing an urgent need across the country: closing the homework gap. With $1.2 billion now out the door today and more on the way, this historic investment is being deployed to provide the connectivity and devices students need to succeed in their 21st century education,” said Senator Markey, Senator Van Hollen, and Rep. Meng in a joint statement. “But we cannot and will not stop here. Congress must pass our SUCCESS Act and provide additional E-Rate funding in our upcoming reconciliation package to continue this effort. We cannot allow students connected by the Emergency Connectivity Fund to lose their new access when the program’s original funds run dry, and we must continue to close the homework gap even after the pandemic ends. We applaud Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel and the FCC for their administration of this critical program, and we urge our colleagues in Congress to build on this progress moving forward.”
In July, Senator Markey, Senator Van Hollen, and Congresswoman Meng introduced the Securing Universal Communications Connectivity to Ensure Students Succeed (SUCCESS) Act to build on the Emergency Connectivity Fund created under the American Rescue Plan and provide schools and libraries with $8 billion a year over five years – for a total of $40 billion – to continue to connect students to the internet following the coronavirus pandemic. The bills currently have 17 Senate and 42 House co-sponsors, respectively.
Since the E-Rate program 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.