Today, we are starting the most significant single campaign ever to tackle the Homework Gap and make sure American students have access to the broadband and devices they need for school—the Emergency Connectivity Fund. Effective immediately, schools and libraries can apply for support to purchase laptops, tablets, Wi-Fi hotspots, modems, routers, and broadband connections to facilitate off-campus remote learning.
As we open the window for the Emergency Connectivity Fund, there are three numbers that every eligible school and library needs to know.
The first number is 16.9 million. That’s how many students do not have the high-speed internet access at home they need to fully participate in online learning. This problem, that I’ve labeled the Homework Gap, has been exacerbated during the pandemic and locked too many children out of the virtual classroom. We’ve seen the effects of Homework Gap during this crisis. Parking lots are full of cars with students using a free WiFi signal to get into class. Parents struggling to find safe spaces for their children to get online. These families have grit, but it shouldn’t be this hard. But help is here.
The second number is $7.17 billion. That is how many dollars are available from the Emergency Connectivity Fund from Congress. That means it’s time to think big and submit proposals that will dramatically narrow the Homework Gap in every community.
The third number is 45. That is how many days schools and libraries have to file an application for support. That is not a lot of time. It is imperative that stakeholders approach this unprecedented opportunity with a sense of urgency. Here are some things you should be doing already to get started.
I would encourage everyone reading this to spread the word where you can about the Emergency Connectivity Fund. You can learn more about the program and what tools we’ve made available to help make outreach a little easier from our Emergency Connectivity Fund website. It’s going to take a huge push over the next several weeks. With your help, I know that we can maximize the impact of this historic investment. Our kids and neighbors across the country are counting it.