Have you thought about applying for E-Rate support, but weren’t sure where to start?
You may be eligible to participate in the FCC’s Tribal libraries pilot program aimed at helping Tribal library applicants apply for E-Rate support. With funding from the Universal Service Fund, the E-Rate program provides discounts of up to 90 percent of the costs for broadband connections to and within Tribal libraries.
What will the pilot program do?
The pilot program will provide one-on-one assistance in all aspects of preparing, applying, and receiving E-Rate support during the upcoming funding year. The pilot will also help participants once they successfully apply for funding to ensure they are supported during the invoicing and other post-commitment processes. The Universal Service Administrative Company, the E-Rate program administrator, will staff the pilot program.
The goals of the pilot program are to:
- Provide general information about the E-Rate program and benefits to Tribal libraries.
- Share information about program rules and requirements, including tools and resources available to applicants.
- Provide training and walk throughs on how to use the E-Rate Productivity Center (EPC) system, the online user account and management system for the E-Rate program. Will explain how to set up an EPC administrator account, obtain an entity number for your Tribal library, and set up an EPC profile for your Tribal library that will be needed to apply for E-Rate funding.
- Walk through the competitive bidding and application processes, including timelines and information needed for competitive bidding and for applying. Highlight common mistakes and misconceptions to help program participants avoid application errors or program compliance issues.
- Provide ongoing support to program participants during the application process and, later, through the invoicing and other post-commitment processes (i.e., the service confirmation and Children’s Internet Protection Act certification or service substitution request).
- Gain an understanding of the applicant experience and then use the information to increase participation and streamline the E-Rate program, particularly for Tribal applicants.
- Learn what training and support is most useful to new Tribal library applicants to enhance E-Rate training materials and training programs.
Who is eligible to participate?
The pilot program is open to Tribal libraries that are new to the E-Rate program or had challenges applying to the E-Rate program in the past. Tribal libraries must be able to demonstrate that they have three basic characteristics of a library:
- Regularly scheduled hours;
- Staff; and
- Materials for library users.
Tribal government entities can designate a library as a Tribal library (for example, through a Tribal Resolution). Tribal libraries may also work with the state library administrative agency where they are located. In July 2023, the Commission adopted an Order making Tribal colleges and universities (TCU) libraries eligible for E-Rate support when they act as the public library by having dedicated library staff, regular hours, and a collection available for public use in its community.
How do I apply to be part of the pilot program?
You can find the pilot program application at https://tinyurl.com/TribalLibraryPilot.
How can I find out more information?
If you have questions about E-Rate or the Tribal Libraries pilot program, please contact our Office of Native Affairs and Policy at firstname.lastname@example.org.