As the year comes to a close, there are several upcoming federal broadband funding opportunities that are worth exploring. In this 3-part blog series, we’re sharing details about the steps you can take to ensure that your community is taking advantage of available federal funding to increase access to high speed internet.
In Part 1, we’re diving into the details of USDA’s ReConnect Program. Stay tuned for future posts about other opportunities!
USDA’s ReConnect program provides up to $25M to fund the costs of construction, improvement, or acquisition of facilities and equipment needed to provide broadband service in rural areas. This program prioritizes funds for the most rural communities with high economic need, and extra points are awarded if the applicant is a local government, cooperative, or nonprofit internet service provider.
The ReConnect Notice of Funding Opportunity is expected to go live before the end of the year; since there is usually a 60-day application period, we estimate that applications will be due sometime in January or February. In the meantime, you can look at the Program Overview on USDA’s website here to see how this program has been structured in the past.
Internet service providers (ISPs), or local governments applying in partnership with ISPs, are usually the recipients of these awards. Many of the recent awardees are cooperatives, a specific type of nonprofit, member-owned ISP that tend to be set up well for this program. And while community-based nonprofit organizations can’t apply directly, there are also steps these entities can take to ensure that their community benefits from this funding!
Check out ReConnect’s mapping tool here to see if your community is eligible. If it is not blocked off as “non-rural,” and there is not already a ReConnect grant there, your community is eligible!
- Are you a nonprofit ISP or local government interested in applying to Reconnect? Reach out to us for support through the Federal Access Center! Our funds can support match as well as application development costs.
- Are you a community-based organization who wants to make sure these funds support connecting households in your area? Reach out to your county government and/or local planning organization to see if they know of any local ISPs that are planning to apply. If so, and they could use assistance applying, have them reach out to us for support through the Federal Access Center! Our funds can support match as well as application development costs. And if you don’t know if you have a cooperative or ISP in your area, the Rural Broadband Association’s Membership Map here is a good place to start.
Continue to Part 2: How Can Community-Based Organizations Help Leverage Federal Broadband Funding?