The Federal Communications Commission announced that it is partnering with the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and will be providing $50 million in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act to help address the digital divide during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The agencies will team up to raise awareness of these funds among libraries and Tribal organizations to increase broadband access in their communities.
The CARES Act allocated $50 million in funding to IMLS, the primary source of federal funding for the nation's museums and libraries, it also includes organizations serving Tribal communities, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus pandemic. This includes work to expand digital network access, purchase Internet accessible devices, and provide technical support services to their communities.
States and territories may use these funds to expand broadband access and prioritize efforts to high-need communities using data on poverty rates, unemployment rates, and broadband availability. Additionally, $15 million of this funding will be awarded through grants to libraries and museums, as well as Tribes and organizations serving and representing Native Hawaiians.
The goal of these grant programs is to support organizations responding to the coronavirus pandemic in ways that meet the immediate and future COVID-19 needs. Grant proposals may include short- or medium-term solutions to address gaps in digital infrastructure. For example, libraries may partner with community organizations to develop community Wi-Fi hotspot and laptop lending programs in underserved areas. Applications are due June 12, 2020 with award announcements anticipated in August 2020.
To view the FCC announcement, click here.