Common Sense Kids Action and the State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA) have collaborated to help finish the job of connecting every school and library in America to high-speed Internet by helping states and school districts access billions of dollars in the newly modernized federal E-rate program.
In 2014, the Federal Communications Committee (FCC) modernized the E-Rate program, a nearly 20-year old program that subsidizes communications projects for schools and libraries with small fees from telephone bills. The reforms resulted in $9 billion being available for high-speed fiber and Wifi projects at schools and libraries across the country over the next five years. While nearly all schools and libraries are connected to the Internet, more than 60 percent of schools do not have adequate capacity or speed to perform most functions required in today’s highly digitized learning and administrative environments.
Not all lawmakers and state and district education leaders are aware of or clear about the recent E-Rate changes and have not yet taken advantage of the available funding. Common Sense and SETDA have developed a user-friendly online E-rate toolkit that explains the changes, available funding, and best ways to apply for it.
Common Sense Kids Action and SETDA will work together this year and in 2016 and 2017 to encourage digital leaders to file applications for E-Rate funding, and Common Sense Kids Action will advocate for states to set aside or appropriate funds that qualify for the new state matching grant created in the modernized E-Rate program that can make local high-speed Internet projects even more affordable.
Interested in learning more about E-rate?
This report highlights the powerful impact of state leadership in driving critical policy decisions at the national and state level to support broadband networks, bandwidth capacity, and Wifi implementation and home access for low-income families. - March 25, 2016